Protect Palestine


Emma Rhoads

Eliza Llewellyn, Web News Editor

In America, the word “Palestine” is frequently linked with other terms: Hamas, terrorism, intifada.  But most residents of the country are not bloodthirsty caricatures of terrorists, but refugees representing a people without a nation nor a means of self-determination.

The Nov. 30 United Nations vote on Palestine’s status as a U.N. observer state corresponded with this goal. However, the United States was one of the nine countries against the upgrade to Palestine’s political standing. But if the U.S. continues to preach freedom and independence, it needs to support a two-state solution that gives land and autonomy to Palestine.

Jews settled in the territory now consumed by Israeli-Palestinian struggles following persecution in Russia and Ukraine and, later, the fascist and anti-Semitic regimes of World War II.

In a 1946 letter supporting the recognition of Israel, members of the U.S. Senate wrote to President Harry Truman, “The Jews left alive in Europe are largely destitute, unwanted, or homeless with a well-grounded need and want to migrate to Palestine.”

In its 1948 recognition of Israel, the U.S. upheld ideals of self-determination and showed its support for those in need.

Today, Palestinian civilians represent some of the neediest people in the Middle East. Although Hamas, a terrorist organization, has influence in Palestinian territories, destitute civilians support Hamas  because it serves primarily as a source of aid.

Hamas has gained popularity by providing civilians with civil services, like infrastructure, as well as by providing families with food and medical care.

Palestinian civilians need these basic resources. According to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, five million Palestinians are refugees. Gaza and the West Bank, territories where Palestinian refugees live, lack infrastructure and a developed economy. Many Palestinians rely on jobs within Israel. However, Israelis treat Palestinians as second-class citizens, making Palestinians carry identification at all times and enforcing harsh travel restrictions on Palestinians.

In a 2010 report, Human Rights Watch noted that, in Israeli settlements, Palestinians were deprived basic neccessities and lived in de facto segregation from Israeli neighbors.

Any American will affirm that our country values freedom and self-determination; our ideals have not changed. Our politics have. We should follow the U.N.’s lead.

The United States’ alliance with Israel makes sense in that Israel is the only true democracy and advanced economy in the Middle East. But the morality of this alliance becomes doubtful when it supercedes age-old values of independence. America may support Israel, but it should also recognize that Palestinians are suffering under Israeli control.

It’s clear that both Palestine and Israel have committed violent acts against each other. Bloodshed has both sides, and neither is blameless.

However, the U.N. decision to recognize Palestine as an observer state is a step in the right direction. It supports Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Operation, while de-emphasizing Hamas. It encourages negotiation, rather than violence, as a route to progress.

Truman described Israel as “not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.” Backing Palestine’s autonomy under a two-state solution will ensure that these ideals remain in politics.