Letter to the Editor

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

In response to the Forum editorial (Jan. 26, 2009) “Possibility of peace between Israel, Gaza shattered by violence,” I felt the need to respond. There were a number of points in the article that I found unfounded, cavalier, and offensive: referring to Israel as the U.S.’s “spoiled child,” calling the recent operation in Gaza a “massacre” in which “hundreds of babies and children who were gunned down at point-blank range,” and the point that Israel’s share of the land is “dangerously disproportionate.” There were other points in Chandna’s article that were factually untrue: her assumption that Israel targets Palestinian civilians, her reference to the Soviet Union’s contribution to the foundation of the state, and the “iniquity” of the UN Partition Plan. I challenge Chandna to reveal the sources from which she has drawn her information, because many statements in her article seem to be made from assumptions and poor journalistic reporting, something uncharacteristic of The Tartan. Overall, I found the article to be poorly written, and Chandna’s attempt to summarize the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in two paragraphs exhibits a lack of understanding for the complicated history of this story.

To consider Israel guilty of war crimes for defending itself from an aggressive enemy whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel is in effect stripping Israel of its right to national sovereignty. It still mystifies me that the leaders of a country that responds in force to the continual barrage of rockets aimed at its civilian population centers for over eight years are deemed “war criminals.” Certainly Israel can be criticized for the amount of damage it has done to innocent Palestinians, or for whether its military operation has achieved anything in the long-term goal of peace, but to say that Israel has no right to defend itself from Hamas is unfair.

I regret the loss of innocent life on both sides. But to argue that this conflict is representative of Israel’s desire for “colonialist expansion” ignores the facts of the situation: Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in Sept. 2005 and only returned to root out the military operations of the terrorist organization Hamas, which has had control of the area since 2007. Israel and Hamas had agreed to a six-month ceasefire, and as the ceasefire expired in December, Hamas refused to renew it and instead began to fire swaths of rockets into Israeli towns, prompting a military response from Israel.

In my opinion, Israel has the right to defend itself from an aggressive enemy like Hamas that specifically targets Israeli civilians while hiding behind its own people. The violence that exists between Israel and Hamas does not seem to bode well for the chances of peace in the near future, something that I still believe the majority of both Palestinians and Israelis desperately want. It remains to be seen how effective Israel’s operation in Gaza was at weakening the military capabilities of Hamas and bringing stability and protection to southern Israel, a war-torn region that is often overlooked despite the apparent power of, as Chandna writes, “Israeli propaganda.” Hopefully both Israeli and Palestinian leaders will soon realize that no amount of bloodshed will solve the conflict without a meaningful, mutually respectful dialogue between the two parties.

Mark Rudnick

Humanities & Social Sciences, 2009