Society cannot write off Israel, Palestine


While Angelenos were complaining about the unseasonably hot weather on Wednesday, 16-year-old Hussein Ghwadreh of Palestine stabbed 19-year-old Israeli soldier Eden Atias to death in Northern Israel.

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Ghwadreh stabbed Atias several times on a bus driving from Nazareth to Tel Aviv. Police have told several news outlets that Ghwardreh claimed revenge for some of his family members held in Israeli jails as his motivation for killing the recently conscripted soldier.

In a region torn by decades of fighting, one instance of violence rarely stands out. Atias’ killing should not become absorbed in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, but rather serve as a reminder of exactly what is at stake in the Middle East.

Atias’ death sparked such a reaction in the international media not because it was rare, but because of the teenagers’ youth. Though many in the United States can often write off these tragedies as symbolic of the crisis, a 16-year-old feeling the urge to kill another teenager should not be seen as normal, even in a restless nation.

The United States has become used to its role as a sort of “world police,” intervening here and there when it sees a global humanitarian crisis. And yet, American society has grown so accustomed to the decades of violence between Israelis and Palestinians that we barely notice the death toll.

The United Nations Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East estimated that 711,000 Palestinian refugees were initially displaced when Israel was founded in 1948. The agency estimates that those refugees’ descendants number close to 4,950,000. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that at least 13,000 Israelis and Palestinians have been killed in the conflict between 1948 and 1997. Other approximations give even higher numbers of casualties.

With plans to build more permanent housing for Israelis in the contested West Bank on the horizon, the conflict is far from over. Palestinian negotiators recently resigned from their jobs, noting the lack of progress towards a peaceful resolution. As the fighting and violence continues, peace can seem further and further away.

It is tempting for Americans thousands of miles away from Gaza or the West Bank to write off the crisis. The relationship between Israel and Palestine is deeply rooted in historic, cultural and religious motivations as well as the more obvious political problems, and can appear unsolvable. Citizens outside of the region can lose interest in a conflict that seems never-ending or impossible to solve.

Many times, a lack of cultural understanding leads to the inability to care about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Few understand the historical background of the region or have more than a passing awareness of the differences between the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Palestinian National Authority or the Gaza Strip. The mainstream media largely ignores the religious or cultural differences between the factions, instead focusing on their international political implications.

And though the politics of the region of course constitute an important part of the conflict and the peace process, there is more to the Israeli-Palestinian story — the people.

Though the average American’s life experience likely differs greatly from the average Israeli’s or Palestinian’s, neither side can forget their similarities. Even the most sheltered, suburban American can empathize with how it must feel to fear for your safety on a daily basis. From a humanitarian standpoint, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been one of the most consistently devastating crises of the 20th and 21st centuries.

When a 19-year-old is stabbed to death by a 16-year-old, the world should not view this killing as yet another act of violence or something that is to be expected in a region fraught with conflict. The international media, governments and citizens from every country in the world should see it as a tragedy, and another reminder of the need for a peaceful settlement. Atias’ death must not be perceived as just another casualty in an ongoing conflict, but a loss of a life on the world stage.

 

Annalise Mantz is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. She is also the Editor in Chief of the Daily Trojan.

Follow Annalise on Twitter @asmantz 

  • Nathan

    And to the “part-Palestinian” who posted above: “I don’t agree with adolf hitler, BUT…”
    Anyone who ever speaks these words will get what’s coming to them. That you would Explicity state that you wish the Jews had been wiped off the Earth betrays your hatred and madness. You don’t know what you’re speaking about. You don’t know the level of Satanic butchery that you’ve just tacitly endorsed.

  • Nathan

    To the two posters above, I should say that you’re both completely off the mark.
    How, I ask, can you accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing when the “indigenous” populations of Palestinians have not only not shrunken, but have grown? You’re both parroting a slew of lies that have been thoroughly discredited and debunked.
    How can you say with a straight face that Israel is the criminal state? Do either of you acknowledge that Palestinian and Arab intransigence might play a role? Give the Palestinians their due? For what? For fomenting hatred within every one of their failed generations?
    Israel would emphatically benefit from a peaceful accord and a peaceful separation from Palestinians. But when Abu Mazen greets released murderers and the PA gives them a monthly stipend, it’s hard to see why Israel even bothers.
    So for the record, you blame Israel for the actions of a Palestinian teenager? Is there no end to what you’ll hold Israel culpable for?

    • “nathan”, you are selling Hasbara nonsense. It is a FACT that Israel Ethnically Cleansed more than 700,000 Arab Palestinians at Israel’s birth during 1947-48 and destroyed more than 450 Arab Palestinian villages.

      Today Israel is a defacto Apartheid State because it refuses to end decades of illegal occupations where the rogue state continues “belligerent” (Israel’s own High Court term) occupation of the Occupied Territories and steals land and resources from them. The “24000” new colonialist homes to be built have only been put on hold. That project has not stopped.

      Further, it’s been in all the news, Israel is Ethnically Cleansing more than 40,000 Bedouins RIGHT NOW, the plan is to destroy their village and put instead some sort of Israeli religious town. I could continue for DAYS.

      The point is, you are attempting to hold people who are under Israel’s boot responsible for Israel’s illegal actions.

      Stop! You have been exposed. Yu cannot change the facts, history, or the reality. Israel is very close to facing the ICC not because of your lame excuses, but because of Israel’s own actions.

  • Mary Wilson

    The Palestinians who left Israel in 1948 were not “displaced.” That was deliberate ethnic cleansing, as revealed by Ben-Gurion’s own diaries. Nor is Palestinian territory “disputed.” It is occupied, contrary to international law. This is a sweet little article, but it isn’t journalism.

  • The land rightfully belongs to Palestine. It had been there for centuries. It had belonged to there ancestors. I could assure you, the land they ost, there were structure that cannot be moved on there, given to those accursed Jews.
    I do not agree with Adolf Hitler, but these things that dare to call themselves human beings are making it surprisingly easy How many Muslims were killed by those dogs. Promised lands, my ass. That thing they worship as a book sent by gods, was probably wrote by a deluded megalomania. I am part Palestinian, and at time like these, I cant help but wish Hitler wiped Jewish people off the face of the earth.
    The Christian hold most of Europe and as such, the military power. If they could stay in Europe and keep there noses out of our business, then we would have been winning. If they could keep there noses out, I wouldn’t have lost my grandparents. If they could keep there noses out then there would be no Jews. Who needs them anyway?

  • jordan

    I’d love to ask Israel’s critics in which state they would rather live: Israel or Palestine. No other country in the world faces the existential threats nor criticism that Israel does, yet it still manages to remain the only pluralistic democracy in the Middle East all while sending daily shipments of food and other aid to the very people that are supposedly being ‘occupied.’ Perhaps if more effort went into building up the Palestinian territories into a respectable place to live instead of constantly blaming Israel, the region would be better off for all.

    • The ONLY existential threat that Israel faces is itself. The extremism, the greed, the arrogance has taken a large toll on the rogue state, so much so that even the paid Israeli trolls bought by the Prime Minister’s Office can’t manage more than a few bleats these days.

      Just a few years ago and dozens of those Paid Hasbarians would descend on an Internet thread such as this one and now, just a couple. Why?

      Because the truth has caught up to them. Ethnic Cleansing since birth until today, the state is unsustainable as an Apartheid State.

      The state of Iran has Never Ever threatened the state of Israel. That lie was put to bed years ago. Hamas is no threat, President Obama has eliminated the CW threat from Syria for Israel and even though Hezbollah beat Israel during the Second Lebanon War (see the Winograd Report), even they represent no real threat to Israel.

      These made-up threats are simply ways to avert the world’s eyes from the illegal occupations, the ongoing Ethnic Cleansing, the illegal colonies, and the incessant killing, often of woman and children, even more illegal colonies, its huge.

  • Samuel

    The onerous is on Israel here–everyone knows that. Nothing will happen until Israel stops breaking international law by confiscating Palestinian lands and resources (water) , period.

    For every Israeli that dies in this conflict, 33 Palestinians die. This is a fact.

    The onerous is on Israel and the US for it’s unflinching support of Israel through Israel’s coercion of US Politicians.

    Time to set the balance here and give the Palestinians their due.

    • I completely agree with you. The land rightfully belongs to Palestine. It had been there for centuries. It had belonged to there ancestors. I could assure you, the land they ost, there were structure that cannot be moved on there, given to those accursed Jews.
      I do not agree with Adolf Hitler, but these things that dare to call themselves human beings are making it surprisingly easy How many Muslims were killed by those dogs. Promised lands, my ass. That thing they worship as a book sent by gods, was probably wrote by a deluded megalomania. I am part Palestinian, and at time like these, I cant help but wish Hitler wiped Jewish people off the face of the earth.
      The Christian hold most of Europe and as such, the military power. If they could stay in Europe and keep there noses out of our business, then we would have been winning. If they could keep there noses out, I wouldn’t have lost my grandparents. If they could keep there noses out then there would be no Jews. Who needs them anyway?

  • I don’t write off Palestine at all. But it is quite easy to write off the violent state of Israel. The state, born in ethnic cleansing and terrorist violence continues that ethnic cleansing even as I write this with tens of thousands of Bedouins.

    Its a shame, but Israel is an extreme failure as a state. No matter what “accomplishments” the state may be able to claim, the “belligerent occupation” of an indigenous people trumps all other history the rogue state may be trying to proclaim.

    The violence does not happen in a vacuum, and just a few years ago a team of researchers affiliated with MIT found that Israel instigates or outright shoots first every time it is forced to face the occupations and the bargaining table.

    And so it is today. What must be questioned, is a loyalty to a state guilty of the Nakba, the bombing of the King David Hotel, all the way to the announced then hastily hidden additional 24000 colonial habitats for yet tens of thousands more illegal colonists who are OUTSIDE of Israel proper and living within Palestine illegally and violently and belligerently.

    • Tom

      Jews, of course, have fundamentally less of a right to self-determination than any other group. Thus Israel should be dissolved; is that correct? Decrying a nation’s policies is very different to denying its very existence, or making it out to be somehow the worst human rights offender.

      Further, Palestinian Arabs are indigenous to the Levant? Try telling that to the Assyrians, Copts, Kurds and Armenians. Maybe after you’ve dissolved the state of Israel and made its citizens return to the countries they were evicted from (no compensation for the Jewish Nakba, of course – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries), you could force the Turks return to Central Asia and give their land back to the Armenians, Kurds and Greeks. Maybe the Maghreb could also be given back to the Berbers.

      The fact of the matter is, the real problem in this conflict is not the inherently evil, bloodthirsty Zionists, but hardliners – whether they be Jewish Settlers, AIPAC, Hamas fighters or yourself (note that Israeli public opinion is firmly against the settlements) – who would rather that one side pack their bags and piss off as opposed to reaching a lasting and stable agreement.

      • “tom”, Israel has spent decades stealing land and resources and not making peace. This is beyond debatable it simply is a fact.

        Don’t blame Hamas, AIPAC, or me for Israel’s quite public and blatant actions.