Only The Onion could explain the crisis between Palestinians and Israelis in a perfect recipe of satire with a bold dash of truth. Its headline states, “Israel calls for increase in U.S. taxes to fund attacks on Gaza.” Despite the on-the-surface humor, this fake story cuts to the core of very serious consequences for the United States.
As a matter of fact, the United States is, in a way, responsible for the recent violence against Palestinians by Israelis. For the past 20 years alone, Israel received more than $2 billion in military aid from the United States. This money comes in the form of bombs that kill Palestinians and the jets that carry them.
In 2012, that amount increased to more than $3 billion. The Arab world demonizes the United States in the same way the United States demonizes the Russians for supplying weapons to the Syrian regime. If this amounted to mere bad looks in the halls of the United Nations, then there wouldn’t be anything to worry about.
However, this is not the case. Just last week, the new Islamist-Egyptian prime minister, the foreign minister of Tunisia and the Qatari emir all went to Gaza to vocalize their support for the Palestinians. All three of these moves were unprecedented in the modern era of Palestinian relations.
To place blame where blame is deserved, Hamas fired rockets into Israel before Israel attacked them. The attack broke the four-year cease-fire between the two parties. In response, Israel assassinated Hamas’ head of military operations, which prompted Hamas to fire more rockets. In turn, Israel was vengeful enough to kill entire families, like the eight-member Dalu family, in Gaza City.
Now, Israeli warplanes continuously bomb targets in what is considered one of the most densely populated cities in the world, causing scores of civilian casualties. In the fighting, more than 100 Palestinians were killed. Only three Israelis have died.
It’s a painfully overused cliché to use as material against U.S. foreign policy toward the Israelis: the Muslim world hates us because we support state actors who kill them every so often. Although this is marginally true, the implications of our relationship with Israel constantly change along with the world around us.
What makes the situation even more precarious for the United States is the awkward position it would find itself in between Egypt and Israel if Israel decides to invade the Gaza Strip. Another Arab-Israeli war would spark. We would also be forced to choose a side between the No. 1 recipient of U.S. military aid — Israel — and the No. 2 recipient of U.S. military aid — Egypt.
In a time where most of the world hates the United States, it’s about time it selects friends more carefully. Israel has the right to protect its people, borders and sovereignty. But it doesn’t have a right to impede upon the rights of other nations — including the stateless Palestinians — regardless of whether they have defined borders.
Although wars can be just, an invasion of the Gaza Strip would not be. A state has the right to defend itself, which is exactly what Israel is doing. However, states which bomb civilian populations to terrorize them sink to the same level as the terrorists they are waging war against.
Either way, the United States should not blindly back up every move Israel makes just because they’ve been friends for a long time. Every once in a while, it’s the place of a good friend to tell one of their friends to calm down. It’s time for the United States to be that good friend.
As it turns out, this is exactly what President Barack Obama had in mind when he dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, directly to Israel in order to hash out a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. Fortunately, it seems like this might happen despite calls from both sides to continue fighting.
Whether or not a cease-fire will actually happen is to be determined.