Students for Israel
On the right to national security
Two weeks ago, during his visit to Israel, President Barack Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “[his] first task is to keep the people of Israel safe.” Israel is the most important ally of the U.S. in the Middle East and it is the only one that is a democracy.
Every nation has the right and responsibility to protect its people, and the security fence that keeps Israelis safe is a justified method of protection.
This fence was erected in response to the Second Intifada, a period of massacres and suicide bombings during which an overwhelming majority of those Israelis injured and killed were civilians. Following the construction of a significant portion of the fence, the number of attacks decreased dramatically.
Another fence built to save lives stands between Gaza and Israel. These nonviolent structures are harshly criticized. To be sure, the fences interfere with the daily routines of the Palestinians living in those areas and must have some negative effects on the general population. Yet they exist out of necessity, not ill will.
This preventative heightening of security is a normal reaction to the constant threats and multiple acts of terror committed by a hostile neighbor. This same response was seen in America following the 9/11 terror attacks. To this day, there is increased security along U.S. borders and in all airports.
Of course it is inconvenient to arrive early at an airport to be wanded, to step into full-body scanners and to even be forced to remove clothing. However, most Americans, including myself, would most likely not board an airplane nowadays without these preventative measures.
Certain tactics have been used by several activist groups to undermine Israel’s efforts to keep people safe. First, they set up “checkpoints” on campuses and subject students to intimidation techniques. This is an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel. Furthermore, they demand that certain everyday products produced in Israel be boycotted, a call that USC has rejected. This, once again, is an attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel.
Noam Chomsky, an American activist for the Palestinian cause, calls the movement hypocritical and says it has a double standard. He continues to say that the Palestinian people don’t want the boycott. Ardent supporters of these sanctions also have stated on record that the purpose of the boycott is the destruction of Israel.
This anti-Israel sentiment is also seen in the Palestinian government. Hamas, the controlling party in the Gaza Strip, is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union and others. Hamas’ charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel and still does not recognize Israel as a country.
The Palestinian Authority is no better. Before Obama’s trip to Israel, the PA honored a woman who urged her three children to commit acts of terror. Earlier this month, Hamas seized control of the entrances of Gaza and refused to allow 65 humanitarian aid trucks into the Gaza Strip, causing harm to the Palestinian people.
In addition, both Hamas and the PA have refused the UN’s request that they take in Palestinian refugees who had fled from the conflict in Syria. Israel has actually brought Syrian refugees across its borders to receive humanitarian aid and medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.
Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway, a former director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said that “It is perfectly clear that the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront against the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.” It is very sad when leaders cause the general population to suffer in order to further their own agenda.
Israel, like every other country, is not perfect. Yet it is held to standards not required of other nations and is constantly criticized — in fact, some of Israel’s harshest critics are members of the Israeli government.
However, history shows that Israel has been willing to make tremendous sacrifices for peace, such as giving up half of the capital city of Jerusalem. Ultimately, it takes two to make peace.
I suggest that we focus on ending the suffering seen on both sides of the fence. Currently, the fence is a necessary barrier for defense, but it is mostly chain link and therefore temporary. All that is needed is a government on the other side who cares about its people enough to want the fences removed, too.