I came across this piece of news today in the Toronto Star, the headline reading “Aid destroyed as UN’s Gaza HQ hit by Israeli fire”
I always try to approach issues with a high dose of realism, temperateness, and logic. With vital issues where lives are at stake, emotion can be a dangerous thing. Emotion has the powerful ability to override the facts. It can serve to blur the line between right and wrong. And it can be dangerously contagious, oftentimes needing only an emotional and charismatic proponent to sway hearts and minds. I realize that everybody has their personal history and therefore emotion is practically impossible to brush aside. But with this conflict specifically, if one lets emotion take a back seat letting rationality guide their opinions, it is becoming very hard to support the Israeli actions.
While it is true that Hamas is a terrorist organization hell bent on destroying Israel and that it was them who broke the cease fire by firing rockets into Israel, the question begs itself. Where should the line be drawn in terms of proportional retaliation? How many innocent civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas need to be killed in order for Israel to make its point? How many hospitals, schools, and peoples homes need to be destroyed in order for Israel to intimidate Hamas into calling it quits? The latest numbers have the Palestinian death toll at more than 1,000, including over 300 children. And the Israeli? 13.
The somewhat promising development is that the international community (most notably the UN) is very slowly starting to condemn these atrocious attacks. Ban-Ki-Moon (secretary general of the UN) is in the region and is calling for an immediate ceasefire, labeling the death toll on civilians as “intolerable”. In a more hostile fashion, Bolivia’s president has called on Israel to appear before the International Criminal Court to face charges.
While all this represents progress towards a more balanced view of the conflict rather than knee-jerk support for Israel and all of its actions, the big names have yet to voice their opinions. The US called for a ceasefire about a week ago, only to be rebuffed by Israel. But there have yet to be any calls of human rights violations emanating from US shores. We have not been much better here in Canada either. This article states that Canada was the only country out of 47 who refused to support a UN motion condemning Israeli’s actions. The headline is a little misleading, given the fact that the US, Britain, France, Japan, and South Korea were not involved while most of the countries involved were Arab nations. But it still represents somewhat of a break from a more neutral and balanced take on the conflict that Canada has shown in the past.
Countries need to start looking at the numbers. Politicians need to put their political futures on the line and stand up for a devastating offensive where innocent civilians who may have nothing to do with Hamas are losing their families, their homes, and their futures.