Every day our television screens and computers are flooded with pictures portraying the conflict in the Middle East. As Americans, we are upset by the casualties and concerned about the loss of innocent lives — but compassion is nothing without action, and we must respond by protecting our ally Israel. It’s important that we as Americans know the truth about the conflict and push our leaders to see the potentially powerful influence we can have in the Middle East — especially regarding peace between Palestinian and Israeli forces. U.S. involvement is imperative on both a humanitarian level as well as on a foreign policy level. Recent research shows a stark contrast between the goals of Israeli forces and the Palestinian Hamas, and it is crucial that we as a nation recognize the difference.
Regarding the current fighting near the Palestinian border, Israeli forces have taken on a much different perspective than Hamas. In an attempt to minimize the number of civilian casualties, non-selective killings, and occurrences of war misconduct, Israel will often warn civilians in Gaza before launching a missile attack. The warnings can be in the form of leaflets dropped over the city, phone calls in Arabic, empty shells to roofs called a “knock on the roof,” and text message warnings. Some leaflets are also used as propaganda — telling residents “Don’t stand idle as the terrorist elements use you” and connecting them to resources with which to report terrorist activities.
On the other side of the spectrum, Hamas is said to use areas populated by civilians as locations for their arsenals. They also run television programs advising civilians to act as “human shields.” The terrorist group has placed missiles and rockets in between houses and has encouraged civilians to actually stand on the tops of their roofs to protect arsenals.
The bottom line: Hamas is using civilians to “guard” their missiles — devaluing Palestinian lives in the name of their nationalistic pursuits. According to Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), her group has tried for over twenty years to alert Washington to what she calls the “anti-Semitic Palestinian propaganda machine” and explains that there is a stark difference between the Israeli and Palestinian mindset.
“Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. They consider it a success if they can complete their objective with the fewest amounts of casualties possible. However, the Palestinians consider it a success if they create the greatest number of casualties possible. We celebrate life and teach our children to love and preserve life and they celebrate death and teach their children to love death and become martyrs.” — Sarah Stern, EMET
We must push for legislation that promotes the peace that Israel deserves and pushes the Palestinian Authority to break its ties with Hamas. America must have a strategic role in this conflict, and we as citizens should hold our leaders accountable to protect our ally in the Middle East — reminding our leaders that any foreign policy that does not support Israel is at stark odds with our national interests.
Furthermore, as Christians we are called to protect Israel and stand with this nation of people that God has blessed.