By Noah Kinsler
As of January 5th, more than 500 Palestinians have died because of Israel's bombing of and subsequent ground assault on Gaza. Another 2,500 are reported injured. Of the 500 dead, a ¼, at the very least, are civilian. Israeli government officials cite ongoing Hamas rocket attacks as justification for this operation. An operation that has, so far, claimed only 5 Israeli lives.
As of December 29th, crossing the border into Gaza has been prohibited. This only serves to exacerbate a mounting crisis by impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid. While Israel claims to have provided aid of their own, reports of electricity and fuel shortages from inside Gaza tend to deflate Israeli assurances.
Our country's politicians have largely shown complicity. Amid anemic statements given to mainstream media outlets defending Israel's actions, unsettling facts about the United States' "defense" aid to Israel and its position of obstruction towards the peace process glare out. We are continuing our pattern of protecting Israel from responsibility by vetoing in the United Nations. We've even blocked the U.N. Security Council from making a statement. Not at all surprising, considering our country has sold many of the bombs used, and being used, in Israel's overreaction.
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," and, indeed, if the United States' silencing of the U.N. weren't bad enough, inaction promises to deteriorate the situation further. Syria has already broken off indirect peace talks and counterattacks from Hamas and Hezbollah (in Lebanon) seem probable.
Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people, likened by many to apartheid, has to be addressed. Whatever Israel's initial goals, the outcome has been ghettoization in Gaza and the West Bank. This continues to fuel the resentment of a people who will not, and should not, be unassimilated.
I ask you to hear the voices of Palestinians, victim to draconian "retaliation," and Israelis, who dissent to their government's response. Hear also the multitudes who have gathered throughout Europe, the United States, and the Arab world in protest. The eighth amendment to the Constitution decrees that "… cruel and unusual punishment [shall not] be inflicted." I hope that the United States' voice won't be the last heard in defense of its own doctrine.