To the editor,
For Americans to understand the Israel/Palestine conflict, we need to know some of the history of that region. Many assume the hostilities between the two people are some …
To the editor,
For Americans to understand the Israel/Palestine conflict, we need to know some of the history of that region. Many assume the hostilities between the two people are some ancient enmity that can never be resolved, but in fact before the 20th century Arabs and Jews lived peacefully together in the land that was then called Palestine.
The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 changed that, with tragic repercussions up to this present war. What the Israelis call the War of Independence, the Palestinians call the Nakba, catastrophe. The Israeli journalist Tanya Reinhart notes, “A haunted, persecuted people sought to find a shelter and a state for itself, and did so at a horrible price to another people.” (Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948)
The Israeli army drove 1,380,000 people, more than half the Palestinian population, off their land and refused them the right of return. Many of the 2 million squeezed into Gaza are refugees or descendants of refugees, and almost half are children.
Nothing can justify the brutal attacks on Israel by Hamas, but it should be evident why the poverty and hopelessness in Gaza breed terrorism and violent resistance. In the ongoing 16-year blockade and siege of Gaza, 20% of the children are stunted before their second birthday from malnutrition, as reported by the National Health Institute. At least 4,000 children to date have been killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza since Oct. 7.
Palestinian doctors’ accounts of the wounded and mutilated children flooding the hospitals — many of which are also being targeted for bombing — are heart-breaking. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, “No one in Gaza is innocent.” It’s hard to grasp how a two-year-old is not innocent and thus deserves starvation, maiming, and death.
A hundred years ago the British founder of the charity Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb, said, “All wars, whether just or unjust, disastrous or victorious, are waged against the child.”
We must urge our leaders to call for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza for the sake of the children, not to mention our own decency and honor.
Thomas R. Smith