History, violence and Israel-Palestine

A cool review of history must inform the heated debate over land rights.

Jacob Barney

I thank the author of the Feb. 1 letter to the editor âÄúHamas and Gaza play rolesâÄù for continuing the conversation over the Israel-Palestine issue. It is a topic the University of Minnesota community remains an active participant in âÄî if often unwitting âÄî through our financial and academic relations with Israel. The author, however, seems to confuse IsraelâÄôs duty to self-defense with its right to self-defense by any means necessary. The latter is not enshrined in any international charters, as indicated by the fact that Israel remains one of the most prolific violators of UN resolutions. We all must decide whether it is appropriate that our right to self-defense always trumps the human rights of others, no matter the cost. The authorâÄôs logic that because America has pursued a foreign policy of self-defense abroad at all costs, Israel is justified in doing the same, should not inform the question of the strategyâÄôs morality. Even if we do think it just, this strategy is unlikely to negate future violence. The authorâÄôs support of current Israeli tactics hopefully implies a belief that may one day be effective. This is contrary to decades of experience that suggests oppressing a people is an unlikely way to reduce the threat of resistance (or alternatively, terrorism). Many will object to my calling the Palestinian people oppressed; I simply have no other word for a situation in which a people have been forced out of the land of their fathers, had their homes, schools and economies destroyed and chances of long life shattered by an outside force. Furthermore, the crux of the authorâÄôs argument that Hamas is the only target of Israeli violence requires an exercise in amnesia. Violence against Palestinians existed some long 40 years before HamasâÄô existence. Some might call this âÄúancient historyâÄù and âÄúirrelevant,âÄù but pretending history is not the source of our current dilemma in Israel-Palestine would be as farcical as pretending our actions today have no bearing on tomorrow. Jacob Barney University graduate student