The guest opinion “Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap” on Oct. 25th was simply one of the most slanted pieces I’ve ever read. Not only did the author fail to look at both perspectives of the issue, he managed to unfairly attack one side.
He claimed the release of Gilad Shalit came at the “very high cost” of releasing 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Let’s examine this statement, shall we?
First, we need to establish this: who is Gilad Shalit? From the sheer joy, sympathy and over-usage of ‘kidnapped soldier’ coming from the Israeli side, you’d think he was a kid who was abducted by those savage Palestinians. The truth is he was a prisoner of war. The author himself identified him as Sergeant First Class Gilad Shalit, a soldier in the Israeli army, also known as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). This is the same IDF that has killed at least 6,418 civilians since 2000, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli organization. This is the same IDF that receives $3 billion annually from the United States while our college tuition costs have doubled in the past 5 years. This is the same IDF that between Dec. 27, 2008 and Jan. 18, 2009 massacred 1,385 Palestinians, of which over 1,000 were non-combatant men, women and children in a break of a ceasefire that Israel initiated. The actual combatants, in the end, are men who take up arms to defend their families because Palestine has no army. These are the men the author calls terrorists.
Israel currently imprisons over 5,000 Palestinians, over 1,000 of which are detained without due process.
However, I do want to address the implication that Israeli government officials are trying to achieve peace (and that Hamas, decidedly, is not) with two examples. Last year, Israeli General Consul Akiva Tor spoke at the UC Davis School of Law about the Arab Spring. As an Egyptian, it blew me away when he said that Israel feared free elections in Egypt because they could result in a government that is unfriendly to Israel. What shocked me even more was his response to a law student who asked why Israel wouldn’t freeze illegal settlement building – Hamas’ only requirement to resume peace talks. His answer? It’s not in Israel’s interests. Okay, fine. At least Netanyahu released 1,027 prisoners for the sake of peace, right?
“…storms are sweeping the Middle East. I do not know if in the near future we would have been able to reach a better deal or any deal at all,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Or not. That hardly sounds anything like Israeli officials’ “willingness” to make peace.
So tell me, who’s stalling the peace process?
One final point to note: it’s easy to play the victim when you have one face; Gilad Shalit’s face has been all over the news. They even know the exact number of days he’s been captured for crying out loud! But the over 1,000 Palestinians remain nameless and faceless, known to the world only as “terrorists” because of unbalanced pieces like this. Most Palestinian families don’t know if they will see their son after he leaves for school or work because an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint might be having a bad day. I can’t tell you how many of my Palestinian friends can’t visit their family members (even the dead ones!) because the Israeli government has blacklisted their family.
I’ll pose this question to the author, as well as all readers: why are Palestinians fighting? What drives someone to strap on a suicide bomb? What makes an ordinary civilian like you and me, someone with family and friends, put on a bomb that will kill them? Why does Israel fear the general populous of Arab countries? I want it to be incredibly clear that I do not condone suicide bombing, but it’s important to ask why? If you can answer that and address it, maybe, just maybe, we can achieve peace in the Middle East.
Senior biotechnology major
Muslim Student Association West president, Muslim-Jewish Coalition member, Arab Student Union president, Students for Justice in Palestine board member