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ELLEN LINDEEN:An eye for an eye (or 25:1); Is our police, Mr. President?

August 6, 2014

The crisis in Gaza is horrific and the conflict between Israel and Palestine is ongoing. Yet the latest killings seem to be so heinous and out of proportion that the US must consider our part in this. The dominant media narrative is that Hamas kidnapped and killed three Israeli settlers and for that reason, people in the Gaza Strip must be punished.  The not-so-mainstream narrative is that there was no proof that the kidnappings and/or killings were instigated by Hamas, who has denied involvement, when the bombing began.
But let us assume for the sake of this discussion that the kidnappings and killings were the result of Palestinians. This act is thought to justify the killing of 1,650 people, many hundreds of them women and children. When did we as a country start to believe that the killing of children is an acceptable response to violence?  When did slaughtering civilians become justifiable?  That is the “eye for an eye” mentality, but in this case, the killing is actually 25 sets of eyes of Palestinian men, women and children, for one set of Israeli eyes (1,650 Palestinians/ 66 Israelis).
As of August 2, 2014, 40 percent of Gaza is in rubble, and it was already one of the most densely populated pieces of land on the earth. When you, Mr. President, say that Israel has a right to defend itself, did you mean to give the IDF permission to bomb UN schools?  Did you think the Israeli military would target young children on the beach?  Did you consider that the peace protesters in the West Bank would be met with IDF live fire? Did you think an Israeli Captain would shoot an unarmed 13-year-old girl in the Rafah Refugee camp?  Israel says that it dropped leaflets telling people to leave their homes. Where are they to go? The Egyptian border is closed; the Israeli border is closed. Are they to swim? Most have gone to schools and hospitals which have been mercilessly bombed.
Killing is wrong, of course, no matter who does it. But do killings of Israelis justify our complicity in the same kind of behavior? Even if we do not consider the problems with the formation of Israel in 1948 or the war in 1967 that pushed the borders, and even if we do not remember that Israel has more than 50 Human Rights Violations recorded at the United Nations--more than all other countries combined--we must acknowledge that people in Gaza have been locked in the world's largest open-air prison for six years. There is not enough food, water, health supplies or electricity for the population. Freedom Flotillas carrying humanitarian assistance have been denied entrance and some of the peace activists on the boats were killed.
You have tried to have a more balanced approach to the conflict than those before you, and so many in this country want to portray you as pro-Islam at the expense of Israel. However, the US must do more to stop this violence. The US gives Israel three billion dollars each year in military aid, so we must accept some responsibility in this slaughter. There is a difference between home-made rockets and F16 fighter jets. Are we about revenge and retribution, or about peace and equality? Is “an eye for an eye” what we believe? 

Ellen Lindeen writes for PeaceVoice and teaches Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at Waubonsee Community College.

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