By Julio Rodriguez
Sixty-six children are dead over the continued fighting between Israel and Hamas.
While in the last few days, the two sides have come to agree on a cease fire, this conflict is one that unfortunately won’t end there.
Through the last few decades, the two sides have fought over each other’s right to sovereignty: Israel in their pursuit of a Jewish state that is safe and welcoming to all Jewish people, and Palestinians fight to protect a home that they have known for centuries.
But almost from the start of the conflict between Israel and the people of Palestine, the power dynamics at play have been one-sided. And one can argue rightfully so, that the Jewish people needed support from military powerhouses like the United States in their pursuit of a safe place to live, since it was just a few decades ago that over 6 million Jewish people were persecuted and slaughtered in Germany during the Holocaust.
But the human rights atrocities happening now should matter to all of us. Right now, Palestinian children and families are being killed by Israeli warplanes and missiles at an alarmingly higher rate than the casualties suffered by Israel.
And all for what? These crimes are being committed under the guise that Israel has a right to protect itself. Protect itself from who? Children?
Frankly, there is no debate to be had about Israel’s right to protect itself. It is a non sequitur when children are being murdered.
Why is Israel doing all of this without any fear of repercussions? Because the United States government funds and protects them. Our taxes are supporting the war machine that is allowing for all of this to happen.
This week it was announced that the Biden Administration had approved a sale of $735 million worth of weapons to Israel. Our silence on this issue has allowed the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the murder of countless people to go unchecked. That can no longer be and we must be more critical about their actions.
In fiscal year 2019, Israel received about $4.8 billion in military aid from the United States and about $8 billion in loan guarantees. Almost all of this money is for the military and “defense” of a government that already commands the 14th most powerful military in the world.
The historical atrocities suffered by the Jewish community are immeasurable. But the murders at the hand of the Israeli government now need to be held to account.
Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization, whose mission is to prevent and stop grave violations of human rights, has called out all of the atrocities in Palestine and has been able to prove that Israel targeted families and their homes to achieve political advantages.
No one has ever held them accountable. It is an unfortunate statement to say, but Israel seems to have no intention of stopping until everyone in Palestine is displaced or dead.
To the citizens of this world and people who want to be on the right and humane side of this issue: We must stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and advocate against the Israeli government’s actions.
These are war crimes against marginalized people and, if we stand idly by, we are complicit in our inaction. Here in California, here in Riverside, here at Riverside City College, we must care about the people of Palestine and stand for Palestinian liberation.
Children are being murdered and we are not doing anything about it. Listening to children’s stories currently living on the Gaza strip is enough to tear at one’s soul.
The media and Israeli government want to paint Hamas as murderers and terrorists, and let’s be frank, they are. But Hamas was started in 1987, during the first Palestinian uprising against the Israel occupation of the Gaza strip. The actions of Israel over the years have created Hamas as a response to the occupation against the people of Palestine.
Israel is the embodiment of modern-day colonialism. While initially created as a solely Jewish state where Jewish people fled to be safe, by 1948 that state had become more and more violent and began to displace the Palestinian people, who had been there for centuries before them.
Israel has taken so much of what was originally Palestinian land. What is going on in the Gaza Strip is an apartheid. Palestinians launch rockets into Israel while Israelis launch massive, catastrophic airstrikes into Palestinian territory. To equate the two is simply a false equivalency.
The United States and this Congress can no longer blindly support Israel. The people of Palestine deserve justice and a safe place to live and thrive, too.