Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Opinion: Why the Israel-Hamas conflict shouldn’t be controversial

Camille Amezcua/The Collegian

I’d like to begin this piece by stating that the innocent lives lost on either side is an absolute travesty and is completely unacceptable.

This opinion piece is about a very heavy and controversial topic. I firmly believe it is important for open and honest dialogue to take place, especially on college campuses.

Opening ourselves up to listen to another point of view that we may disagree with is healthy and necessary because it gives a better understanding of the conversations taking place, and where you individually may stand on a current issue in the marketplace of ideas. This makes us more informed voters and places us in a position to positively impact our communities by providing intellectual value.

BBC reports satellite data suggests between 50 and 60 percent of buildings in the city of Gaza have been destroyed. It is clear that the United States plays a vital role in giving Israel the confidence and military power to destroy a city that is home to a million children, in the name of “self-defense.” The death and destruction are our tax dollars at work.

As a student journalist, I find it important to stand up for what I believe in and call our government out when the policies in place directly result in the death of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

It is worthwhile to note that there is enough blame to go around for both sides. Hamas carrying out the slaughter of innocent Israelis on Oct. 7, 2023 has directly resulted in the single worst attack the Jewish people have faced since the holocaust, as well as the suffering of over a million Palestinians. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies reports 845 Israeli civilian casualties and 239 hostages obtained on October 7.

The people responsible for the acts of terror on Oct. 7 need to be held accountable. No rational person is arguing that Hamas’ terror tactics are helping the situation in any way. Israel should and does have the right to defend itself against acts of aggression.

However, that does not grant a free pass to commit war crimes and certainly does not give them the right to ignore the history of the conflict.

Understanding the power dynamic and which side has more control is crucial. Israel clearly has much more influence over the situation due to many factors, including the size and strength of their military, the blockade of Palestinian territory and Israel’s political influence over the U.S.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health claims the death toll of Palestinians has risen to over 25,000 since the start of the war, roughly two-thirds of the victims being women and children. We have all seen the footage of the city of Gaza absolutely leveled, making life a living hell for the Palestinian people.

According to the United Nations, 1.9 million Gaza civilians have been displaced from their homes as a result of Israel’s military operations to retaliate against Hamas. Israel’s strategy of indiscriminate bombing not only has been ineffective in killing Hamas soldiers, but it has also been a complete public relations disaster. In an interview with Time, the program director of genocide studies at Stockton University stated Israel’s war has been a, “textbook case of genocide.”

“Net favorability—the percentage of people viewing Israel positively after subtracting the percentage viewing it negatively—dropped globally by an average of 18.5 percentage points between September and December, decreasing in 42 out of the 43 countries polled,” reported Time in an article,

In other words, the U.S. is the only country in that poll to still hold net positive views of Israel.

On Jan. 28, The Times of Israel published an article stating it is thought that up to 80% of the coined “terror tunnels” are still intact to this day. The tunnels are critical for Hamas as they serve as an underground network to coordinate, stash weapons and conceal movement.

Setting aside the allegations of genocide, Israeli has not been able to boast killing any senior Hamas officials. While it is nearly impossible to know how many Hamas combatants are still alive, an NPR article estimates nearly twenty thousand still alive, with an Israeli calculated estimate of roughly nine-thousand dead Hamas militants.

The debate of whether the Israeli government policies are valid or not comes to a complete and utter crashing halt when the conversation moves to Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of propping up Hamas and indirectly funding them. Netanyahu has been the prime minister of Israel since Dec, 2022. Netanyahu’s administration is the most right-wing, religiously conservative government in Israeli history, according to a PBS article.

The day after the Oct. 7 attacks, The Times of Israel featured a story with the headline, “For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces.” The purpose of propping up Hamas was to delegitimize the Palestinian effort to establish a Palestinian state.

The war efforts have gotten so egregious that South Africa is turning to the International Court of Justice to make a case that Israel is committing acts of genocide. According to a Business Insider article, Israel said it dropped around 6,000 bombs on the Gaza Strip within the first week of the war. That figure is near the amount of bombs the U.S. dropped in Afghanistan, 7,423 to be exact, within the entire year of 2019, according to an Al Jazeera report.

The Israeli government does not reflect and question its tactics instead they are doubling down. Recently, in a televised media event, Netanyahu stated, “In the future, the state of Israel has to control the entire area from the river to the sea.”

This clearly demonstrates the Israeli government has no interest in a two-state solution under the current circumstances.

Reuters reported that only about 15% favor Netanyahu to be prime minister once the war is over. This incentivizes Netanyahu to continue the war as long as possible in a desperate attempt to gain military victories and regain popularity among Israeli citizens.

Looking at this conflict from the lens of an American citizen, I believe it is paramount to look into America’s role in this conflict. It is crucial to call out the implicit impact we have had in allowing tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians to lose their lives, and displacing a million more while continuing to send Israel bombs and aid to fuel these atrocious acts. I would argue that the military strategy to protect Israel is having a relatively obvious inverse effect.

The political climate in the Middle East is warmer than ever, and the condemnation of Israel’s war efforts in Gaza by Middle Eastern countries presents a far larger threat to Israel now than before the war began.

Dave Smith, the host of a libertarian political talk show called “Part Of The Problem,” was recently a guest on the show “Just Asking Questions,” by Zach Weissmueller and Liz Wolfe.

“With Zelensky and now with Netanyahu, part of why they are so willing to be so provocative is because they know they have the baddest bully in the world that has their back. If they didn’t, they might be like, ‘OK, well look, we really got to think about this. Maybe we shouldn’t just bomb the hell out of Gaza right now because that might actually piss off the world,’” Smith said on the show.

I think Smith’s point speaks to America’s role in Israel’s ability to evade international accountability. The libertarian perspective of the non-interventionist approach makes the most sense going forward to pursue de-escalation efforts. This means cutting military aid to Israel and pulling U.S. troops out of the Middle East so they don’t have to die like the three who tragically lost their lives on Jan 28th from an Iran backed drone strike.

Stepping back from the political perspective and looking at the conflict through just a human lens provides an even further insight into how this conflict has become a cycle. If you are a kid in Gaza and you witness the Israeli government level your city and kill your family members in the process, are you going to be more or less likely to want peace?

The back-and-forth killing of innocent civilians on both sides creates this vicious cycle of violence that citizens, who have no involvement, have to die for.

As Americans, we have the freedom to speak out against the injustices of our government and use our voices to influence politicians into doing what is best for America. TheData For Progress poll found that a majority of Americans support a call for a ceasefire in Gaza and a de-escalation of violence.

The Biden administration has not waivered in its support for the Israeli government.

“We’re not going to do a damn thing other than protect Israel in the process,” said President Joe Biden when speaking with democratic donors in December, CNN reported.

By “protect,” he means sending them military aid in the form of bombs and artillery shells along with the $3 billion a year in aid the U.S. provides to Israel.

It is not in the best interest of the American people to send our tax dollars to bomb helpless people in the Middle East, which we have been doing now for decades.

We need to demand the politicians who are supposed to be working for us to actually do what we want them to do, which is to condemn the apparent atrocities that the Israeli government committed and cut military aid to Israel in an attempt to incentivize a peace agreement, and de-escalate tensions in the Middle East. As soon as the U.S. stops funding Israel, the carnage ceases.

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