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The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

    Campus reacts to conflict in Israel and Gaza Strip

    Since Israel was created, Palestine has been fighting what they consider an illegal Israeli occupation. As the situation has escalated over the years, other nations have become involved in the conflict by feeling forced to choose a side. History and political science professor Dr. Margaret Gonzalez-Perez, who specializes in Middle Eastern politics, explained the history behind the Gaza and Israel conflict, the current situation and her overall outlook on the United States’ part in the situation.
    Gonzalez-Perez said that Britain was in charge of the Middle East after World War I ended, and they chose to give the Jews,  who had been persecuted for centuries in Europe, a piece of Palestine. The United Nations (UN) helped to officially create Israel in 1948, and since then Palestine has been fighting to take back the land.
    “Recently, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense and blockaded the Gaza Strip in Palestine to prevent weapon smuggling from Egypt to Palestine, but this blockade also prevented the influx of food, medicine, trade goods and the movement of people to and from their jobs and homes,” said Gonzalez-Perez. “From Israel’s perspective, they need to isolate and control the Palestinians because they are rebels and terrorists. From the Palestinian perspective, Israel is an illegal occupying force that has stolen their land, violated hundreds of UN resolutions, and committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians.”
    While an international issue, Gonzalez-Perez believes that this conflict has created many headaches for the United States.
    “This conflict is a lingering policy problem for the US,” said Gonzales-Perez. “As the most powerful nation in the world, other nations and international organizations such as the UN look to the US to be a stabilizing force in world politics. Yet we did not create this problem, and there is no easy solution in sight. Both the Republican and Democratic parties want the support of American Jewish voters and their campaign contributions, so the US tends to support Israel against Palestine. Palestinians are at a disadvantage in influencing US policy because there are far fewer Palestinians, or even Arabs, in the US, and they are not as politically organized as the American Jewish population, so they have less influence on US policy.”
    She then mentioned that the United States and our European allies have opposing views on the Gaza and Israel conflict.
    “The effect of US allies will vary, depending on the ally,” said Gonzalez-Perez. “Most of the European nations are more sympathetic to the Palestinians. Since there are fewer Jewish political organizations in Europe, those governments don’t need to support Israel’s policies. They can evaluate the decision without as much personal political interest. On the other hand, some of our Arab allies feel very strongly that the US support of Israel has only made Israel more aggressive against the Palestinians.”
    The US may also have allowed Israel to gain an unfair advantage in the conflict, despite past claims.
    “An additional problem is that the US claims to discourage other nations from gaining access to nuclear weapons (North Korea, Iran, Iraq), yet the US allowed Israel to get nuclear weapons,” said Gonzalez-Perez. “The Palestinians and other Arab neighbors of Israel are very resentful of this and feel threatened by a nuclear neighbor, which is why Iran claims it needs nuclear weapons.”
    Israel and Palestine will most likely continue fighting for quite a while.
    “My personal opinion is that this conflict will not be solved easily or quickly,” said Gonzalez-Perez. “Each side believes that they are fighting for their lives. They have been fighting for decades, and you simply cannot give the same land to two different nations.”
    The most important part of this conflict for Americans is remaining informed on conflict in other countries.
    “Palestine wants to be allowed to be a member of the UN so that it can take its case to the International Criminal Court,” said Gonzalez-Perez. “Other international courts and human rights organizations have investigated the situation in the past and found Israel to be guilty of persecuting Palestinians (cutting off their access to water, electricity, etc.).”
     

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