We must recognize Palestinians as humans

Published 11:34 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dear editor,

The recent upsurge of rockets from Gaza and air strikes from Israel has left two Israelis reportedly dead while 315 Palestinians have been killed and about 400 injured. At least 51 of them were civilians, according to the UN.

The mind-boggling puzzle is why Hamas, the ruling political party in Gaza, would bring this down upon their own people and themselves. No one in our government, however, and few people in the mainstream media seem to be asking this question. Israel does have the right to defend itself, but the reason for escalation of rocket fire from Hamas is that Israel put a blockade in place around Gaza after it withdrew its military presence in 2005, economically crippling the entire region. Imagine if you were dependent on shipments of goods from the UN or United States for everything from food to antibiotics that might not even arrive today because the Israeli military does not let as much traffic through today. The economy of the Gaza strip involves surrounding regions like southern Israel and the West Bank. Similarly, if you put a blockade on Chilton County, which is about five times the size of the Gaza strip with less than 1/30 the population, factories, plants and car dealerships would close and everyone with jobs outside the county could not get to work. Quite frankly, I understand why thousands of impressionable Palestinian teenagers hate Israel. Eighty percent of people who live in Gaza live below the poverty line.

Until we and Israel recognize Palestinians as human beings and until they are allowed to take part in a dignified way of life the cycle of violence will never stop. America’s government only feigns interest in a Middle East peace process. It is only interested in Israel as a tactical and economic ally.

—Marc Anthony “Tony” Parker, Thorsby