Saturday, January 10, 2009

War in Israel-- an American Perspective

For those of you that live in a cave, Israel has been at war in Gaza since the day I arrived in Israel. We have received a lot of concerns from family and friends wondering if we are getting enough food and asking about the bomb shelter life. If CNN and BBC did not exist, I would never know that Israel is in the middle of a war. Life here is completely normal, and the vast majority of Israeli cities are safe.

A little history about the war. Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel, was elected democratically by the Gazans to control the Gaza Strip. While they provide good public services to the Gazans, they also have been actively building up a military and launching rockets into Israel for the past seven years. Just imagine if Cuba launched rockets into Miami-- after the first couple of rockets, there would be no more Cuba.

For the past several years, Israel has been forcing Jewish people living in settlements to leave Gaza and give full control to the Palestinians. Israel wants the Palestinians to be in control of Gaza and wants to have peaceful relations with them. The terrorist organization that runs the government isn't exactly peaceful, so Israel began a military campaign to weaken or eliminate Hamas so that they can live in peace. For the first week I was in Israel, they had been attacking from the air, and for the past several days they sent in ground troupes with the support of the army and navy.

When the US goes to war, they send in young men that we have never met to a place we have never seen. A lot of the US public, myself included, has trouble comprehending a death of a soldier. When Israel goes to war, they send in the sons, brothers, and friends of the entire population to a place that is 50 miles away. Everyone in Israel, including my brother who got here two months ago, knows someone that is fighting in this war. For example, my brother's RA is standing by because there is a chance he will be called into reserve duty. Israel has lost six soldiers so far, and I can't imagine how many people knew them. I now have a new respect for soldiers, their families, and the great losses in the Iraq war.

War is bad for both sides involved. After living in Israel and talking to my brother for the past 2 weeks, my political views have shifted left and I support some form of giving up land for peace. I believe that in order for there to be long lasting peace in Israel, the Palestinians need their own country.

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