Two Sides of a Conflict

January 18, 2009
By Salman Husain, Wichita, KS

Regardless of race, heritage or religious affiliation, human rights continue to remain a concern in the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine. The fact that the people that are suffering are Jewish or Muslim is meaningless. More importantly, human life is going to waste- on both sides of the border.

An article from the Reuters News Service reported on January 18 that both Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire. This truce may offer a temporary solution, but unarguably the conflict is far from over. The same article claimed that during the course of the 22 day struggle, approximately 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis lost their lives. It's truly unfortunate that after such an exhausting and time consuming endeavor, so many innocent civilians suffered.

In a recent conversation that I had with a history instructor at my school, I made the argument that the human rights abuse that occurred was appalling. My contention was that Israel had taken unreasonable measures to counteract the rocket fire from Hamas. I even had a report from the BBC International News Service that made the assertion that Israel was responsible for provoking the recent conflict as it was Israeli air strikes on 20 Hamas official homes in Palestine which led to rocket fire into southern Israel. It was then that I was posed with the unexpected question, “if you were an Israeli civilian and you were being rained on by missiles from Hamas, what would you do? Would you sit back and let them attack you?”

My simple response was, “If I were an Israeli civilian, I would encourage my government to end the occupation and cease the unnecessary targeting of civilian life.” For many people my solution is an unrealistic and unattainable suggestion, but for others its a promising hope for the future.
Undoubtedly, both Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been caught up in the struggle between Hamas and the Israeli government. But a long term end to the violence is not achievable while Israel continues to oppress an entire group of people.

Its paradoxical for Israel to call for permanent peace and the elimination of the belligerence from Hamas while they remain engaged in an offensive occupation against the Palestinian people. Only when they tear down the concrete walls that they built around Gaza and demolish the humiliating check points that they created within Palestine and offer equal control of the border between the two nations, can there be an end to the violence. Only when Israel desires co-existence between the two groups of people can their be peace. Only when Israel values the human life in Palestine just as they rightfully value the human life of their own nation, will the terrible aggression on the side of Hamas die down.

Domestic media publications and new services do an inadequate job of presenting the facts. Many American news sources subjectively portray Palestinian aggression towards Israel in which Israel fires back in defense of their people. Although there are isolated instances in which this is true, those same news services neglect to depict the oppression on the side of Israel and how the Israeli government has complete dominance over the Palestinian people. Hamas's terrorist affiliations are infuriating and their disregard for the civilian life in Israel is repugnant, but their protection of the Palestinian people is necessary. The problem arises in the way they execute the protection of those people.

Extremism is an ugly and fearful entity. The extremism in Gaza, however, won't fade until Israel ends the occupation against Palestine. Perhaps and end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory will would engage the moderates from both sides to work together and establish permanent and peaceful negotiations. The United States should never abandon Israel, but at the same time the US has a unique capability to encourage Israel to end their belligerence and provocative action.

I have no personal connections to Palestine, but my concern for the human life in both Palestine and Israel is sincere. I had this conversation with a best friend of mine who happens to be Jewish. Although she supports the Israeli cause and we have political discrepancies regarding the conflict, we both came to the same conclusion. Perhaps that Jewish friend of mine put it best when she said, “there are always two sides of a conflict. It doesn't matter that those people that are dying are of a certain ethnicity or religious background. What matters most is the death of innocent human beings.”

The author's comments:
My concern for the loss of human life and suffering in Gaza and Israel led me to write this article.

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