An up-close look at the Israel and Gaza conflict
June 6, 2013
I just returned from Israel/Palestine with an Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation. We visited an Israeli kibbutz 10 kilometers from Gaza and heard about the fear created by rockets landing there. But the Israelis we met believed attacks on Gaza by their government only put them at greater risk.
Upon return, I notice that whenever U.S. media discuss the fighting between Israel and Palestinians, the statement, “Israel has a right to defend itself” leads the discussion. Has any newspaper argued that Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? If Hamas had assassinated Netanyahu, would that be justified as self-defense?
In asking “Who started it?” we forget that conditions in Gaza as a virtual prison are a permanent provocation. As strongly as I have believed in non-violence all my adult life, it is extremely hard to resist wanting to “do something to fight back” against the daily violence of the Israeli occupation. The Israeli siege and blockade of Gaza make it unbearable. I could only hope to have the grace and courage of the many Palestinians we met, who struggle non-violently, facing death and suffering every day because they dare to simply survive and say that “we are humans, too.”