Guest Column: As Americans, we stand with Israel

Adam Roth and Domonic Burke

As current president of College Republicans and former president of College Democrats, we have been very attentive to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the last several weeks. As aspiring American political leaders, we understand the strategic importance the Middle East plays in United States foreign policy. We also understand the conflict is complex, and both sides share responsibility to end the horrific violence.

Yet as NU student leaders we will continue to stand by Israel as it defends itself from Hamas terrorism. Israel is America’s most enduring and strategic ally in the Middle East, a bastion of democracy in a region overcome by turmoil and sectarian conflict. In our minds, to be pro-Israel is to be pro-liberalism and pro-peace.

There is no moral equivalency between the sovereign state of Israel and Hamas. The terrorist organization is a ruthless power that has failed in governing the Gaza Strip, prioritizing weapons-smuggling tunnels over hospitals, rockets over schools and death over life.

Since Hamas murdered its way to power in 2007, it has acted with reckless disregard for its own people. Hamas has continually ignored the needs of its people, channeling its time and international aid into terrorist attacks against Israel. Instead of using 600,000 tons of cement for the construction of hospitals and shelters, Hamas built a network of more than 30 extensive “terrorist tunnels” from Gaza into Israel. Since the beginning of the current Israeli offensive operation, these tunnels have been used by Hamas militants to infiltrate Israel, killing 10 Israeli soldiers in two separate attacks. No sovereign country would tolerate such terrorist activity on its border.

At the same time, Hamas has placed the Israel Defense Forces in an incredibly difficult situation. By hiding rockets in civilian homes and in United Nations-designated schools, the terrorist group guarantees that civilian population centers will be targeted, despite the IDF’s best efforts to prevent civilian casualties (leaflets, cell phone calls and text messages). Hamas seems to possess no regard for human life. Each innocent life lost in Gaza gives credence to Hamas’s goal to isolate Israel internationally and fuel a propaganda war. Each dead Israeli aids Hamas’s credibility in Gaza, evidenced by the celebration when Hamas released it had captured an Israeli soldier.

It’s very easy to look at the disparities in the body count and assume that because Israel has fewer casualties, it is the aggressor. This standard has been used to condemn Israel’s seemingly ruthless war against the Palestinian people. Yet only looking at the unequal body count ignores countless other factors. Why are there no bomb shelters for Gazans? Why has Hamas encouraged Gazans to stay in their homes as human shields despite Israeli warnings to evacuate? Why has the international community disregarded Hamas rockets that fall on Gazan citizens?

Unlike Hamas, the Israeli government prioritizes its citizens’ well-being. While Hamas has spent lots of money on weapons to attack Israel, the Israeli government has developed the Iron Dome missile defense system to protect its citizens. These measures have saved countless lives and helped thwart Hamas’s goal of mass Israeli casualties. Israel does not gain anything from violence.

In fact, violence is denounced by the Israeli government. Israel’s rule is based on democracy and justice. Hamas’ existence is based on of a perpetual state of war.

Even in this dark time, when Palestinians and Israelis are pushed farther apart by hate, there is still hope for reconciliation. An optimistic hashtag has been circulating around the Internet: #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies. These tweets come with pictures of countless Israeli-Palestinian interfaith couples whose love for each other has endured even as bombs fall on the Holy Land.

Internet warriors on both sides do not help end the conflict. They only add to the noise. Having different views on the Israel-Palestine conflict is no reason to not pursue mutual understanding, least of all for a war that as Americans we are lucky not to be fighting.

We mourn the tragedy of death on both sides, especially for the innocents placed in harm’s way. An end to the cycle of violence can only occur when both Israelis and Palestinians can live without fear of bombs and rockets. We must remember that Israel holds the moral high ground and a shared pursuit of freedom that we as Americans cherish.

We hope to continue this dialogue when we return to campus and we pray for an end to the violence.

Domonic Burke is a Weinberg junior and the president of NU College Republicans. He can be contacted at [email protected]. Adam Roth is a Weinberg senior and the former president of NU College Democrats. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

Domonic Burke is the president of the Northwestern University College Republicans and publishes this piece with the authorization, endorsement, and input of the NUCR executive board. Given that NUCR does not have a club platform, it is not their practice to publish opinion pieces. However, given the high, ongoing importance of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, they decided to make an exception.