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Conflict in Gaza more than individual sides

Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor

The conflict in Gaza is all over the news. We know this.

There are numerous reports, anecdotes, and statistical figures about the multitude of attacks going on between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip in the Middle East — details of locations, times, and responsible actors of missiles launched from either side. In the United States, a country more sympathetic to Israel than others, the media is laden with pro-Israel sentiments, while the realities of life on the ground, for both Israelis and Palestinians, is a story often lost to Americans.

We don’t know what to make of the conflict or which side to take. As the war in Israel continues, even more mainstream media sources seem muddled and the act of side-taking is drowning in a sea of deadly facts and figures that the American populace as a whole seems to be challenged to wrap its head around.

Two weeks ago, when demonstrators rallied in Oakland regarding the conflict in Gaza, the absurdity of choosing sides in a war against humanity in the Middle East hit home in our own city. As pro-Palestinian supporters rallied on one side of Forbes Avenue, a smaller, and seemingly less organized, contingent rallied in support of Israel on the other side of the busy street. The monstrous act of choosing sides had come to Oakland — and still didn’t seem to accomplish much of anything.

President Bush supported Israel while in office, and his support has been echoed in the media, particularly during the start of this Gaza conflict. To Israel-friendly sources (such as the U.S. media), the country is acting out of self-defense against animalistic attacks from Hamas. To others, a story often untold that must be explained is the fact that Israel is occupying Gaza — a move that much of the world finds illegal. Regardless, 22 days of fighting have passed, and as of the time of this editorial’s publication, a tentative week-long cease-fire agreement has been reached. Strong arguments in favor of either side in the media have seemingly faded into confusion over responsibility and a plethora of overwhelming data pouring out of the Middle East.

This issue is one of a humanitarian crisis. While we are not necessarily in a position to fully comprehend the details and intricacies of the conflict, we do not want to be caught in the wave of unbalanced journalism simply in favor of either Israel or Hamas. We should all stop taking sides, and recognize that the human lives at stake are more important than choosing sides.