All’s quiet on the Middle Eastern front. It’s been a while since Israel or Palestine has headlined in the news, and that’s a good thing. The Egypt-sponsored, open-ended ceasefire between the two sides has gotten Israel’s troops out of Gaza, and stopped the air raids, rockets, and mortars. The Palestinian Ministry of Health, OCHA, and IDF report that during the fifty days of fighting between July 8th and August 28th, 2104 Palestinians lost their lives and 73 Israeli’s lost theirs.
So, who won?
Does Israel win? It succeeded in its mission to kill senior Hamas leaders, destroy Hamas’s weapons stockpile, and collapse their tunnel network. It eliminated immediate and significant threats to its security and the safety of its people. Israel, however, resorted to indiscriminate airstrikes, torture, and military occupation.
Does that mean that Palestine won? It held off an overwhelming military offensive, and gained political standing in the region such that it is now bargaining for seaports, airports, and prisoner releases. However, it lost thousands of lives, and resorted to tactics such as human shields, and storing its weapons in homes, schools, and hospitals.
Both sides are fighting for legitimate, understandable reasons. Israel fights for its security. Since it gained statehood in 1948, Israel has constantly been under attack by its neighbors and left without a single ally in the vicinity. Palestine fights for its liberation. The Palestinian people have been oppressed since they were forced out of their land when the UN declared Israel a state. Lately, Israel has occupied the Palestinian territories, policing it harshly and cutting them off from the rest of the world.
So who the winner is depends on who you ask. Before this whole episode, many people had already taken sides on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and merely used this outbreak as fodder to shove their opinions down other people’s throats. And therein lies my personal problem. Now don’t get me wrong, people are entitled to their own opinions, and I urge people to have opinions; it means they care. However, people are making opinions on the wrong issue here. They are getting caught up in the spectacle that the media has made of this conflict, and they are buying into it. They are choosing sides.
Choosing sides is the most damaging thing we can do in this situation. It perpetuates the conflict, gets us yelling at each other, and does nothing to resolve the greater issue. When we choose sides, we are saying that one team is right and the other is wrong. It’s a black and white sort of dichotomy. The problem is that this is a very gray issue. No side is right. Both states are wrong.
Well then, if both sides are wrong, then shouldn’t the side that’s less wrong be right? That idea works in certain situations, but lesser of two evils should not be acceptable when we are talking about thousands of people dead, injured, or without the basic necessities to live. No state can be considered “right” in this conflict anymore. They lost that privilege a long time ago.
But how can you not choose sides? Well you can, but on a larger scale. Allow me to rephrase. We shouldn’t support Israel over Palestine or vice versa. We should choose sides between right and wrong. Peace and conflict. If we look at the situation in this light, everyone would choose the same side. Everyone wants to choose the side that does right, and everyone wants peace.
So then what’s the answer? What’s the right, the peaceful, the humane solution? Unfortunately I don’t know. What I do know is that decades of looking for it in the mindset of Israel versus Palestine has only brought death and destruction, with intermittent, lapsing peace. This issue is bigger than two states. It’s a matter of humanity. So maybe if people looked past the borders, ignored nationalism and just chose sides between right and wrong, somebody could find the answer we’ve all been waiting for.