This past week, I was forced to think long and hard on whether I should respond to Gabriel Galangs Letter to the Editor. There were several reasons I felt I shouldnt. For one, I had already dedicated the last two editorials to the issue, and felt it was more appropriate to address another issue, like the Child Care debacle for instance. More importantly however, I felt I needed to pick my battles. I wasnt going to be drawn into using the fourth page of this newspaper as a platform for a debate with someone who I felt, misread and misunderstood the context of my editorial. Thankfully, before dismissing everything, I sought an outside, neutral perspective first.
I came to realize that there was many a faux pas with my editorial from two weeks ago (The Gaza Crisis ). Firstly, I had contradicted myself by preaching against scepticism while at the same time citing that the war between Israel and the Palestinians would probably never end. While Im sure many would nonetheless share my latter sentiment (indeed, I still find it difficult myself to be positive on that point), that particular declaration went against everything I was trying to achieve in the editorial.
As I continued to reflect, not just on my editorial but on Mr. Galangs letter as well, I realized there were various other details and sentiments that were questionably researched and represented respectively. Hamas refuses to accept Israels right to exist and will never change their view on this.
Mr. Galang has since corrected me on this, citing a report from an Israeli newspaper that Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal had stated in April last year that he would accept a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders and would grant a 10-year truce. I researched and found this to be accurate.
Recently, a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended, and Hamas chose not to renew it, beginning instead to fire home-made (but increasingly sophisticated) rockets into Israel.
For this point, I need only refer you to my source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7818022.stm.
On the BBC news website, it says explicitly that Hamas chose not to renew the ceasefire and that rockets were indeed fired into Israel before the Israelis began their offensive on December 27, 2008. Perhaps I might have done better to have also mentioned the six Palestine militants that were killed by Israeli soldiers during their first incursion into southern Gaza on November 4 2008, a time period that fell during the truce.
Mr. Galang claims that the truce is a myth, but while I can see how and why he would say this (brutal embargo et al), its clear that an official ceasefire was in place before December 27. Unfortunately, who it was that broke the truce depends so much on which media you prescribe to. Anyone who obtains their news from various outlets will know that BBC and CNN, for example, present contrasting details and facts for any one given political story. Whos to say who is wrong and who is unbiased?
What bothered me the most however was the way in which some of my opinions were perceived.
But war is war isnt it? Theres no rule that says both sides have to weigh their punches equally.
Mr. Galang goes on to link my sentiments to that of Saddam Husseins. While that undoubtedly is a harsh comparison, I feel I should admit that the manner in which I presented my opinion was dubious in itself. Yes, I still feel that war is war, but regretfully, that rationale should not have been applied to the recent Gaza crisis. When 1,000 people from one side are killed while the other only suffers twenty or so casualties, then that is not war. That is something akin to a massacre.
The final point of contention I wish to address is my assertion that this crisis is probably the most complex issue in the history of the world to date. Mr. Galang declares that the international consensus is quite clear and goes on to list his reasons as to why, all of which I seem to agree with. Thus, I feel Mr. Galang is misunderstanding my point here. I never said the issue carried a complex moral dilemma. In my opinion as well, it doesnt. But it does pose a distinctly complex argument from the political perspective of things. Yes, the rest of the world is on the side of Palestine. And yes, the U.S. stands alone in their support of Israel. But is there ever a clear-cut reason why? Anyone will tell you that that argument is hugely extensive.
My stance is simple: whoever we are and whatever we specialize in, we should always understand that there are aspects of anything that we dont (and possible, wont) understand. Should we ever be so arrogant as to think we do?
In closing, I feel that to have to explain and clarify all of the above is a bit of a shame, for it was never my intention to provide a history lesson. It wasnt even my intention to present my political stance on the issue. All I wished to do was to sway past all the pontificating and instead highlight something which I felt was relevant to us a student body. That this is probably the most complex issue in the history of the world to date, and we as students of the world should never stop thinking about or educating ourselves on it. I regret that due to a few discrepancies, this intention didnt fall through. But it was all I meant to say.