|Political Puppeteers: A Show of Bloodshed|
Why do we call it political violence when apolitical civilians are the ones who suffer most? It seems to be because political factors, the concerns from the leaders in power or those individuals seeking power, are driving the violence.
It was not a coincidence that the brutal shelling on Gaza ended in an Israeli initiated unilateral cease-fire just days before President Obama assumed his position. In fact, weeks ago I had heard projections that just before Bush was out and Obama was in would be an “appropriate” time to end the violence. It is not acceptable for nearly 2,000 human beings to lose their lives for an Israeli election stunt, coordinated prior to Obama’s taking of the oath, for strategic purposes. We, as individuals of the world, cannot tolerate an offensive, whose supposed mission was to deter terrorism and end the rockets launched towards the civilians of Israel; to operate on a political calendar. It is time now for the voices of fellow humans, calling for an end of violence, to carry more weight than a potential slap on the wrist from influential politicians.
The Israeli war on Gaza, initiated less than 50 days before the Israeli election was scheduled to take place, was justified because of the danger for civilians in range of rockets launched into southern Israel from Gaza. April 16th of this year will mark eight years since the first rocket was recorded as landing in Israel. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 4,000 rockets have been launched into Southern Israel since this time, over 3,000 of which launched after the 2005 Israeli withdraw from the region, which was conditioned partially on a cease of rocket-fire. Last year alone, over 1,000 rockets were launched. This rocket fire has not only killed several Israeli civilians, but it has left fear in the hearts of those living in the country. Some projections indicate nearly one million Israelis living within range of rocket fire. This fear that is plaguing the lives of all of these individuals necessitates action and a search for a solution.
But why now? Why after years of rockets and fear and danger—why is now, just weeks before the Israeli election—the best time to initiate a crushing offensive? No solution was found in the December initiated bombardment of Gaza, by land, by sea, and by air. The fear inflicted in those weeks broke down any hope for dialogue between Gazans and Israelis, it developed deep rooted distrust within the Palestinian population and much of the world that supports them, and more importantly it devastated an entire nation of people—their homes, their land, and their families.
To add pain to this traumatic situation, which has caused great fear and heartache for those on both sides, the overarching motivations for this violence seem to have been inspired by winning favorable election position. It is a commonly known trend that war paves the way for a hawkish leader to find support in the elections. In addition to this, reports have confirmed that the attack on Gaza has provided gains for the Kadima Party initiators, and while Benjamin Netanyahu remains ahead in the polls, it has been projected that the Kadima top-guns will be remembered for this attempt to save face after their unpopular 2005 pull out from Gaza.
We cannot allow these political stunts to ruin any potential for peace. This drips with similarity to Ariel Sharon’s pre-election 2000 trip to the Temple Mount, which is infamously credited with precipitating the Second Intifada (also known as the al-aqsa intifada, so named for its affiliation with the Muslim holy place—the al-aqsa compound sitting atop the Temple Mount to which Sharon led a group of his Israeli supporters), that is the violence that has plagued Israel with suicide bombings, stone throwing, and harsh retaliation from then until the present.
These stunts, which have been initiated seemingly for political gains, have resulted in the deterioration of dialogue, breakdown of security, and increased violence on both sides. The recent deaths in Gaza now stain the relationship between not only Israelis and the Palestinians, but their respective supporters the world over.
It is positive now to have a man in the White House who supports dialogue in lieu of violence, however, it is not President Obama who can save this world from indiscriminate killing with very little success in deterring continued violence. It is us, the people of this world, who are responsible for speaking out against violence and brutality wherever it exists. In the case of Gaza and Israel, the attacks on both sides must end—however escalation and decimation are the only outcomes of the recent Israeli offensive.
We must all support a culture of peace and we must denounce politicians that use violence as a tool for winning popularity in an election. It is my hope that the people of Israel will recognize the burdens this violence has brought upon the relationship between themselves and the Palestinians, and also the dangers it holds for humanity. It is my hope that the recent attack of Israelis in Gaza has further proved the atrocity of war and bloodshed—and its usual inability to bring peace. We must support politicians who speak a language of peace and who believe in dialogue. This world cannot afford to support politicians who use violence to gain popularity—we, as voters and citizens of the world, cannot respond with brutality when confronted by aggression.
Political violence is initiated from the top-down—and so it is those on the bottom, civilians, who are faced with the greatest decimation and destruction. However, we must promote a culture of peace from the bottom-up, by empowering ourselves to stand for peace and justice. The recent Israeli attack on Gaza has allowed politicians to deliver a harsh retaliation to the Palestinians of Gaza, collectively punishing civilians and militants alike, in an unrelenting attack—in a pre-election time when war would have the power to redirect votes. We must avoid becoming captivated by the deadly charades of politicians and work to protect the wellbeing of humans the world over by standing strongly against an unwise and unjust war.