For the last two months, the world has looked on in horror at what is happening in Gaza. Bombs and rockets coming from the sky, indiscriminately murdering thousands of innocent men, women, and children. Millions of people were forcefully dislocated from their homes, and systematically deprived of food, fuel, and clean water.
For some, the tragedy that is currently unfolding is justified retaliation to the horrific attacks that occurred on Oct 7. It is clear that the events that unfolded on that day were a tragedy, and we empathize with those who lost friends, family, and loved ones on that fateful day.
It is clear that when the attacks on Oct. 7 and the ongoing “war” are analyzed in the context of history, it becomes apparent that what set this current conflict into motion was not what occurred on Oct. 7, but rather, May 15, 1948. The day Israeli settlers forcefully displaced 750,000 Palestinians. Known commonly as the Nakba (which translates to “catastrophe”). Furthermore, the current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is a direct result of American foreign policy. Since the Israeli settlers arrived in Palestine, the United States and Western Europe have funded the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Like many foreign governments, Israel lobbies our politicians to vote for policies that align with their interests. Our very own senator, Bob Menendez, is one of many politicians who receives millions of dollars from AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying PAC. The relationship between our government and the Israeli regime has created a system wherein our taxes are used to fund genocide. As elections near, we must hold our elected officials responsible. Through collective organization and mobilization, we must work to put pressure on our elected officials to not continue to support genocide.
This election looks like it will come down to a contest between two pro-Israel figures, both jockeying to see which one can be more anti-Palestine. President Biden has called for over 14 billion dollars for Israel since Oct. 7th, sent to fund the Israeli Defense Forces (or IDF). Meanwhile, Trump was the first president to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a clear provocation since half of the city is supposed to be under Palestinian jurisdiction. With options such as these, it is apparent that the only viable solution is direct action.
Our position is simple: American taxpayer dollars should not be utilized to fund a systematic genocide or an apartheid government that has different laws for different ethnicities. The US must stop all military aid to the state of Israel immediately. It must not continue to run defense for Israel. Instead of our money funding bombs that blow up hospitals, it should aid the civilians caught up in all this death and destruction.
Over 90% of the water in Palestine is undrinkable, and they already have less water than Israel because of restrictions on the building of wells and collection of rainwater in Palestine. Why send the money that we labored to earn and pay in taxes to fund war, when we can instead use that money to make sure everyone in Palestine has drinkable water, a roof over their heads, or medicine to keep them well? The US must call for a permanent ceasefire in the face of the bloodshed, and commit to joining the BDS (boycott, divest, and sanction) movement.
The United States and Israel’s relationship is a complex one. On the one hand, the two share many of the same values, both are representative democracies, both uphold ideals such as women’s and LGBT rights and have been allies in the war on terror. On the other, Israel has frequently violated international law.
In the past, their soldiers have fired upon civilians who threw rocks at them, they encroach on land which, by international law, they have no right to, commonly sending settlers into Palestinian land, and forcing the inhabitants out. Since the creation of Israel, it has had to defend its right to exist from both external and internal aggression several times, with the current war being the latest event in a long, bloody history of religious and ethnic violence.
On Oct. 7th, the world watched in horror as the Hamas terrorist organization, which has held an iron grip over the city of Gaza since 2007, launched a surprise attack. They used drones, tunnels, gliders, and many other methods to advance through Israeli defenses and wreak havoc on the population in the area right on the border from the strip. As per Israeli sources, around 3,000 members of the armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, killed 1,200 Israelis in total. Of these, 859 were civilians, 282 soldiers, 57 members of the Israeli police force, and 10 from the Israeli security agency Shin Bet.
They also brought back with them into the Gaza Strip 247 civilians and soldiers as hostages. This has been the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust, and in the hours and days following the attack, there was international condemnation of Hamas and support of the Israeli people. The government of Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised revenge to the Israeli people.
This revenge came as a prolonged air campaign, followed by a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. These attacks on Gaza, a city with over two million inhabitants, have led to the death and destruction both of the intended Hamas militants and innocent Palestinian civilians caught in the middle. The following is my personal opinion on the conflict and the United States’ approach to it: I believe the United States should stop funding the Israeli military. However, if the Israeli government wishes to buy our weapons from us at market value, so be it.
Our alliance with Israel must be maintained, but we cannot be dragged back into yet another quagmire in the Middle East. With tensions rising in Europe, Africa, and Asia, we simply cannot afford another conflict in the region. When it comes to the Palestinian refugees, many of whom are now homeless due to the combined air and ground campaigns, we should maintain humanitarian aid convoys to refugee camps.
When it comes down to the actual conflict, I’m no military man, so I cannot propose a coherent strategy for the Israeli military to clear the thousands of buildings and tunnel systems it comes across. However, if the Israeli government and Hamas cannot find a comprehensive solution for a lasting ceasefire, to save face with the international community and stop the needless bombing of civilians, they need to stop dropping bombs and begin clearing the buildings with their soldiers. This will cause military fatalities to rise, but if Israel wants to reduce the number of civilians dying, stave off the claims of genocide, and alleviate pressure from other nations calling on Israel to end the war, then this must be done.
The United States should reevaluate its relationship with Israel on all fronts. Our funding is no longer being used in the effort of the defense of our ally, it’s now being used in a brutal offensive against Palestine and its people. In response to this, and to ensure world peace and uphold human rights, we must make our funding conditional. We must prevent Israel from utilizing our extensive funding and military support in their flagrant violation of human rights in the region and ongoing occupation of Palestine’s territory.
Our funding should strictly be used for the defense and development of their nation, not on military operations that lead to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians. We should represent the true values of democracy and in doing so we should no longer support their efforts. Every day we see news of the bombing of hospitals, the separation of families, and an ever-increasing death toll– thousands perish every week.
Well, over a million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes, and over 15,000 people, many of whom were children, have been tragically murdered at the hands of Israeli forces over the last two months. The situation is untenable, immediate change is of the utmost importance. Most Americans and certainly a majority of Democrats support a ceasefire.
Around campus and across the nation, young people– against social and political pressure– have become outspoken in their distaste for what Israel has been doing in Palestine, and even more so for America’s continued support of it. America should answer the calls of an increasing majority of people who wish not to participate in the human rights violations going on and should prioritize human life over political interest.
We should pause our funding to Israel until after the offensive against Gaza ceases permanently. In the meantime, we should direct funding towards humanitarian groups and their efforts to tend to the many separated families, and people who are in dire need of life-saving support and aid. Regarding the conflict, the United States should immediately advocate on behalf of a permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation of the Gaza Strip.
We mourn for the lives lost in the Oct. 7 attack against Israel, and by no means condone it. That said, Israel’s response has not been proportionate. The people living in Palestine have faced unimaginable pain, suffering, and loss since Israel’s recent campaign, and they have faced exponentially more losses of innocent life. Until the conflict ends, innocents will continue to be taken by the thousands. As put by Jewish Voice for Peace: “A future of peace and safety for all, grounded in justice, freedom, and equality for all, is still the only option.”
This conflict has forced all Americans to ponder about how they wish America to be perceived globally, and how we should operate abroad. We believe that America is supposed to stand against war crimes and the murdering of innocent civilians, not just when it benefits them, but always. We should by no means be funding these horrific attacks, and should be utilizing our significant influence to initiate an end to the conflict and the occupation. We hope that with time, the actions of the American Government will slowly begin to represent most American citizens who would prefer a ceasefire over conflict, and are growing more sickened every day by the news about constant attacks on hospitals, religious institutions, etc.
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