By Wesley Kerrick–
Bloody rocket exchanges in Israel and the Gaza Strip this month reflect long-standing hostility between Israel and Hamas, the organization that controls Gaza. The conflict centers on decades-old controversy over Zionism.
On its website, the Anti-Defamation League says, “Zionism is the Jewish national movement of rebirth and renewal in the land of Israel — the historical birthplace of the Jewish people.”
By contrast, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s website says, “We struggle against Zionism and its manifestation in the State of Israel’s historic and ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and the confiscation of their land.”
Located between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, Gaza is slightly over twice the size of Washington, D.C. Hamas, also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, is an offshoot the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization based in Egypt. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government and that of many other nations.
Hamas calls the recent cease-fire that took place on Nov. 21 a “victory” for Palestinians. “The resistance is the way to liberate the land and deter the Zionist occupation and restoration of usurped rights,” it says on its website, as translated from Arabic by Google Translate. Hamas spokesman, Khalil al-Hayya, is quoted as follows: “The victory of the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip on the Zionist enemy embodies today the unity of the Palestinian people, and the unity of blood and the rocket and gun.”
“While the recent conflicts in Israel are tragic and discouraging, the way the media has recently amplified the focus on Israel’s defense of herself this past week
has shed light on issues that could benefit the average citizen two-fold: 1) This is a great opportunity for Americans, some who don’t know anything about Israel, to learn more about our country’s greatest (only) ally in the Middle-East… Israel is a thriving democracy in the center of the Middle East, which puts them in a very unique and volatile position,” said president of Cards for Israel, Ashley Burkhead in an email.
“…I hope Americans not only realize we have a great friend in Israel but also become more vocal in taking a stand for our friend and ally in the Middle East and her right to defend herself,” Burkhead continued.
Israel has been firing rockets at Gaza Strip purely for defensive purposes, said Israeli President Shimon Peres in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN last Tuesday.
“It doesn’t give us any pleasure whatsoever to see anybody in Gaza suffering. What for? We want to live in peace with them. We don’t hate them. We don’t try to get any glories or any victories. We want to live in peace,” said Peres.
“We would like everyone to know that we need to advocate our government actually take a stricter stance toward Israel and not blindly support everything that the Israeli state does, which is what Obama has been doing,” said Sarah Khayat, a first year medical student.
“We would like our fellow students, our fellow Louisvillians to know that this is happening and that American support and aid to Israel is one of the things that is propelling the conflict or at least helping to prolong it. Honestly, I just hope that it allows students to open up their eyes a little bit, and if they have no idea what is going on in the conflict to look it up, do some research and figure out what is actually happening on the ground,” continued Khayat.
Peres put all the responsibility on Hamas to end the violence. “They have a choice,” he said. “The minute they will stop it, it will be stopped. We don’t have a choice. We can stop and they continue.”
Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, a researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said on israelnationalnews.com that “Hamas views each round of armed conflict with Israel as a stage in a long-term war of attrition. Hamas leaders hope the increasingly severe and violent outbreaks will eventually erode Israel’s resilience while goading the masses toward the emergence of a united military front for the liberation of Palestine.”
“Occupied Palestine,” a pro-Palestinian blog, quotes Khaled Abdul-Aziz, secretary-general of an Egyptian humanitarian relief committee that visited Gaza. “What we have seen in Gaza, the suffering of people due to the imposed siege, is much greater than what is covered by media.” The blog says Israeli policies deny healthcare to civilians in Gaza. “Infringement of such is a passive form of aggression which policies Israel deliberately deploys with the intention to ethnic cleanse.”
Jewish Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz said on CNN that Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel to draw Israeli retaliation on Gazans and thereby arouse public outrage against Israel.
Photos by Andrew Nathan/The Louisville Cardinal