Jews are not our enemies

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014


IN THE past few weeks, my wife and I were bothered about the photos of innocent children of Palestinian Arabs of Gaza who were victims of missile attacks from Israel. Our hearts "bled" while looking at the photos of these children dying at very young ages. Looking at those photos reminded me of the book that I read that says, "(T)he Israelis and the Palestinians have lived - and died-through too many seasons of warfare, hatred, destruction, and recriminations. They have thrown too many stones and bombs. They have killed too many dreams and dreamers."

With what is happening now in Gaza, I agree in what they say that "you do not need to be a Muslim nor a Jew to call for an end of the bombings."

I guess most of us are not aware of what is happening in that part of the globe. New York Times has this summary of events. "The three regions on the map (Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank) were once known as Palestine. Ownership of the land is disputed primarily between two different groups: Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs (who are chiefly Muslim, but also include Christians and Druze)."

The Arabs in the Middle East fought the Israeli for occupying Palestinians. This was called as the Arab-Israeli War of 1947-1948. After the war, Palestine was divided into the areas. "Jewish Israelis, whose ancestors began migrating to the area in the 1880s, say their claim to the land is based on a promise from God, and also for the need for a safe haven from widespread hostility toward the Jewish people (known as anti-Semitism). The Palestinian Arabs say they are the rightful inhabitants of the land because their ancestors have lived there for hundreds of years." What we have now was a claim on the land, based on the Holy Books, which dated thousands of years, versus the people who have lived there for hundreds of years.

News reports say that in September 2005, the Israeli prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, withdrew all Israeli settlers from Gaza, making it the first territory completely in Palestinian hands. Israel, however, kept tight control over all border crossings and continued to conduct raids.

From that religious differences, come the political struggle. In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, ousting the Fatah government. Fatah and Hamas also fought within to advance their political interests. Israel, which had refused to recognize the Hamas government, responded by clamping down even tighter on the flow of goods and people in and out of the territories. (NY Times, Archives)

After those events, Hamas and Israel tried to address the conflict. By June 2008, they had a truce, in that true, Hamas officials aimed to stop rocket attacks on Israel not only from its own armed groups, but also from others based in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

It took some days, but they were largely successful. Hamas imposed its will and even imprisoned some of those who were firing rockets. But the goods shipments, while up some 25 to 30 percent and including a mix of more items, never began to approach what Hamas thought it was going to get. Israel said it planned to increase the shipments in stages, and noted that the rockets never stopped completely.

After the truce lapsed on December 19, rocket firing stepped up quickly, and Israeli air strikes Israeli air strikes soon followed. The death toll of air strikes on the first day was estimated at 225; by December 29, it had topped 300. On January 3, a land invasion invasion of Gaza began, and by January 8, the death toll was 660.

The conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Zionist (now Israeli) Jews can be considered the modern flaw of mankind. A clear picture of religion and politics, all gone wrong. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all believers of God, and yet religious differences are the cause of the conflict.

If you may ask, what are they fighting for? Sad to say, again they are fighting for a small area-approximately 26,000 square kilometers or about twice the area of Lanao del Sur. In summary, the Middle East Research and Information Project reported that "the competing claims to the territory are not reconcilable if one group exercises exclusive political control over all of it. Jewish claims to this land are based on the biblical promise to Abraham and his descendants, on the fact that the land was the historical site of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea, and on Jews' need for a haven from European anti-Semitism. Palestinian Arab claims to the land are based on their continuous residence in the country for hundreds of years and the fact that they represented the demographic majority until 1948."

We now have a case of two opposing parties, each having their own divisions and sub groups. One rejects the notion that a biblical-era kingdom constitutes the basis for a valid modern claim. They do not believe that they should forfeit their land to compensate Jews for Nazi's crimes against Jews.

How then can we, all humanity, settle this conflict? As we support the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza, we have to be mindful that Islamic militant terrorists - whether they are called al-Qaida, Isis, Hamas, or Hezbollah - are killing not only Jews, but innocent Muslim civilians as well. Jews are not our enemies. Our enemies are the terrorists from different religions. Terrorists who use children and other civilians as human shields.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 16, 2014.

Opinion

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