The Israeli story
People should abandon prejudices and support Israel as it strives for peace and freedom in the Middle East
As peace talks in the Middle East continue for yet another week with little progress, a central question looms large in the minds of many: Why should we care about Israel? It seems like a fair question. Why should we bother learning about Israeli history? Why should we seek to understand the nuances of a conflict that is seemingly without end? It is, admittedly, far easier to silently support Israel, or even turn a blind eye, than to vocally defend her. So why bother?
The answer is simple; because if we do not, we - not as Jews, but as humanitarians - have lost our place in the world. The world has been increasingly condemnatory toward Israel in a way that is frightening not just for the existence of the Jewish State, but perhaps more ominously, for the future of human rights and freedom. Israel is one of the only nations in the Middle East that accepts refugees from Darfur; the only nation that offers more than 300 courses on water management, emergency medicine and refugee absorption for emerging nations annually; the only nation that has built hospitals and treatment facilities in nations of individuals who have sworn to destroy her; and the only nation in the Middle East where Arab women are free and equal in the eyes of the law. It is also the only nation that is condemned an average of 18 times per year by the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The Commission has passed negligible resolutions against a number of countries, such as Turkey, which refuses to admit its part in one of the most grievous genocidal campaigns in human history - second only to the Holocaust; Iran, where women are legally murdered by their fathers because they are too Western or too "loose;" Sudan, which has, through a terrifying program of government sponsored mass-murder, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Africans; and China, which has been terrorizing illegally occupied Tibet for years. When Israel responds to more than 10,000 rocket attacks from Gaza with military force, though, "human rights" officials have no problem labeling that "genocide," all the while letting the real genocides and human rights violations go unresolved – and oftentimes unacknowledged.
If we do not care about Israel, then we allow terms like "human rights," "freedom," and "humanitarian aid" to be mercilessly hijacked by terror organizations and corrupt governments. We allow organizations founded on the values of equality, progressivism and unalienable rights to be blinded by a block of nations founded on theocracy, xenophobia and, as is increasingly the case, jihad. If we do not care about Israel, we cannot bring her truth to the world, and in doing so, help refocus international attention on serious human rights violations.
It is up to us not just to stand up for Israel, but, in so doing, to stand up for the values she holds dear - ones that are not unfamiliar to us as Americans. Israel is at the forefront of the environmental movement and is the only country that entered the 21st century with a net gain in trees and with plans to use electric-only cars by 2025. She is also at the forefront of medicine, having brought what were unanimously praised as the top medical treatment facilities to Haiti during this year's earthquake. She has rescued hundreds of thousands of refugees and has developed groundbreaking research for treating diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. She has helped develop the technology required for cell phones and laptops and is even in the process of developing a flying car! All the while she stands up for human rights and freedom, unilaterally returning more than 93 percent of any land she has ever won in war and negotiating with all Arab leaders – like Jordan and Egypt – who will agree to sit at a table.
What separates Israel from many nations, however, is that she even negotiates with those who have consistently responded to her peace efforts with hatred and violence. Although both Fatah and Hamas have within their founding charters a promise to destroy Israel and the Jews, Israel has refused to allow this to deter her efforts toward achieving peace with her Palestinian neighbors. In 2000, Israel offered Palestinians 97 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza and East Jerusalem. Ninety-four percent of Palestinian civilians believed this offer was sufficient. Palestinian leadership - far from listening to the pleas for peace from its own people - instigated the Second Intifada, resulting in the deaths of over 5,500 of its own people, 1,100 Israeli civilians and 64 foreigners. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 in a gesture of peace and reconciliation, Arab leaders used the territory not to build up their own governments and work toward democracy in Palestine, but rather to set up weapons caches and launch rockets into Israeli kindergartens. Yet, even to this day, Israel continues to push for peace in the hopes that one day the Palestinian Authority's political manipulation of its own people will be replaced by an honest desire to work toward the democracy and peace so desired by most Palestinians.
In articulating a basic framework for human rights in the 1940s, Eleanor Roosevelt said, "I know that we will be the sufferers if we let great wrongs occur without exerting ourselves to correct them." Looking at the facts, it becomes clear: Without Israel, it is not just the Jews who will suffer, but the humanitarians. It is not just the existence of Israeli developed cures, treatments and technologies that will be forgotten, but the very concepts of freedom, peace and liberty themselves.
Carrie Filipetti is the president of Hoos for Israel and a fourth-year student in the College.