It’s so typical of my life that, at the same time as I’m planning and booking several trips to the Middle East, crap has gone back to hit the fan. In the coming two and half months I have trips planned (and booked) to both Egypt and Morocco who coincidentally are two counties currently putting intense pressure upon Israel to show restraint during this time of violent exchange and humanitarian crisis. My parents are freaking out at the prospect of their first-born frolicking off to a war zone and country, which in recent months has seen a scarily high volume of western tourists being kidnapped by al-Qaeda. I, on the other hand, find that the unfortunate timing of these events makes the trips altogether more appealing, significant and worthwhile. What better way for an aspiring journalist and war correspondent to spend their year abroad weekends? Right now I have the time and the money so I’m making damn sure to make the most of it because once I’m back in England I’ll have to finish my bachelors degree before moving onto my masters in journalism. I need to cram in the field research and, in my warped mind, the trip to Israel that I had been pondering has just become even more tempting. Most people who like to live on the edge take up kickboxing or skydiving; I go on holiday to countries with severely elevated terror threats.
In the last few days the violence in the Middle East has escalated and the crossfire between Israel and the Gaza strip is incessant. My perspective and opinions concerning the war have been extremely conflicted and writing this is particularly useful in allowing me to consolidate my thoughts and determine my stance. It’s all well and good sitting on this side of the fence or that side of the fence but you have got to understand what you’re standing for and why. I’m not one to take sides unless I feel that one is significantly less blameless than another so, ever the diplomat, my feelings rest somewhere along Israeli-Palestinian borders. When you remove all emotion from an equation you can see each element more clearly, allowing you to rationalise a seemingly irrational situation such as this.
The Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is illegal and violates the human rights of the Palestinians living there (if you can even call it ‘living’), however any country has the right to defend itself, its land and its people. Israel cannot be blamed for the existence of Hamas however it does directly contribute to its expansion and, in all aspects of this conflict, Israel continues to shoot itself in the metaphorical foot. As a direct result of occupation and oppression in the Palestinian territories, young people are left without job prospects. With every drone or missile that strikes Gaza the path to terrorism becomes ever more viable and appealing because these youngsters have nothing left to aspire to. With expanding forces comes increased fire, comes higher number of casualties, comes increasing worldwide outrage, comes hatred towards Israel no matter what was said or done to and by whom.
So is it that the world is anti-Israel or is it pro-Palestine? Is it an anti-Semitic issue? Are Israeli/Jewish lives less important than those of Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims? The reporting and news coverage of this war is biased and we all deserve to be provided the whole truth, no matter how distressing. A life is a life regardless of on which side of the border it was lost. A home is still destroyed whether in Khan Yunis or Tel Aviv. Neither side is blameless; both have committed atrocities, war crimes and acts of terrorism; both have violated international law and human rights. Castigation and finger-pointing achieve nothing and only serve to rattle cages, and demonising another race or religion is so last century. I believe in the right to exist of a separate Jewish state and Palestinian state, in both of which people should be able to live in freedom and without fear or harm, but the transition begins from the outside. Wherever you stand; stand with peace.