Weighing in on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is a sure fire way to alienate lots of your politically minded friends. Like abortion, it's an issue that demands loyalty to one side without concession. If you don't have a particularly strong opinion about both issues either way, then it's best to stay the hell away from them.
I've long been a critic of Israel when it comes to its treatment of the Palestinians, but have refrained from jumping in every time the conflict flares up in recent years. Why? Because it is so toxic and divisive that I'm not sure it does any good venting about it on Facebook, Twitter, or on these pages. If you are pro-Israel, there's not a lot anyone can say to change your mind. If you can watch Israel decimate Palestinians and take their land on live television, year after year, decade after decade and still justify their behavior, then there is little point in engaging in debate. It's takes an extraordinary leap of logic to justify Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine, and the blind support the nation receives is born out of irrational tribal loyalty rather than a neutral observation of the facts.
There shouldn't be any need to go over the obvious facts given they are so readily available, but the basic truths are ignored over and over again by the media and those who support Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank. I have no idea whether this will make any difference, but I'm throwing myself back into the ring nevertheless with a vague hope that someone's mind, somewhere, may change.
Make no mistake - Israel is occupying Palestine illegally and ruthlessly punishing them anytime they try to fight back. The latest flare-up of violence is no different. Regardless of who started the latest mini-war, it makes little difference when looking at the larger picture. The fact remains that Palestinians were being collectively punished for the barbaric killing of three Jewish teenagers when Israeli troops illegally went into the West Bank and rounded up hundreds of Hamas activists. It provoked another round of counter-attacks from Hamas, and predictably, Netanyahu responded with massively disproportionate violence that has so far led to the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians. So far, no Israelis have died from Hamas's ineffective rocket fire.
The fact is, if the situation were reversed, there would be a far different response from the US media. Imagine Hamas sending soldiers into Israel after the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair was burned alive in order to round up hundreds of Jewish extremists. How would Israel respond to a foreign army encroaching on its territory and illegally detaining its citizens? They would rightly deem it an invasion and would do everything in their power to fight back. The problem is, Palestinian lives are not seen as being equal to Israeli lives, so Israel can do what it pleases in the land it occupies. As legendary Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan once said: "We don't have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and will see how this procedure will work out."
Israelis routinely claim that they have to defend themselves against Palestinian attacks. But occupying someone else's land is an attack itself, so it is impossible to defend yourself if you are the person attacking. So can we please stop pretending Israel is being attacked? (Image source: Reuters)