Thursday, November 15 witnessed these slogans ring forth from the mouths of students on the lawn in front of Kerckhoff Hall. About 30 students gathered with signs declaring “Free Palestine,” “Stop Bombing Gaza,” “Support Boycott Divestment Sanctions,” and “We are all Gazans,” among others.
In response, Bruins for Israel organized a peaceful protest on Bruinwalk in front of the steps of Kerckhoff Hall. While Palestinian-sympathizing students arranged themselves on the lawn, holding signs, waving Palestinian flags, and casting iron stares downhill, the pro-Israel students below mingled.
They mingled with random passersby on Bruinwalk, attempting to inform the non-affiliated population with flyers reading, “Since January, Hamas has launched 822 rockets at Israeli civilians. Hamas launched 274 rockets since yesterday alone, detonating as far north as Tel Aviv. If rockets fell on your home, what would you do?”
While people remain ever-divided on the issue of Palestine’s existence, Americans should have no issue supporting Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of increasing rocket fire from Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization funded by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The U.S. Department of State released a statement saying, “We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
“Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination.”
This is a statement of truth. If Palestinians truly wanted peace, how is attacking Israeli civilians a viable means to obtaining that peace? And during a rally condemning Israel for bombing Gaza in retaliation, how do cries of “intifada” have a place? While “intifada” means an armed uprising or rebellion, it recalls the First and Second Intifadas, in 1987 and 2000, respectively.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the First Intifada saw “more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives […] During this period, 16 Israeli civilians and 11 soldiers were killed by Palestinians in the territories; more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 Israeli soldiers were injured.”
During the Second or al-Aqsa Intifada, 5,619 Israeli citizens were injured and 787 killed, 2,484 Israeli security forces were injured and 331were killed.
There was also a pro-Palestinian girl who held a sign with a quote from Malcolm X: “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
But from whom do Gazans really need their freedom?
In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew IDF forces from the Gaza Strip, leaving it free to be governed by whomever the Palestinians elected: Hamas.
Pro-Israel students answered the protesters’ “Free Gaza” signs with “Free Gaza From Hamas” signs in consideration of Hamas’ disregard for its people’s well-being and for the prospect of a peace process.
Signs countered signs, and shouts countered friendly mingling and calm outside Kerckhoff.
Both sides attempted to sway public opinion, admittedly to a negligent effect. Most students looked up with dazed looks in their eyes, tired of shouts from what they probably regarded as either a subject they either did not care about, or one that they thought they already “knew” about.
But how much do we all really know?
So far, here are some facts:
According to the Jerusalem Post, on Sunday, November 18, a rocket directly struck a house after the Iron Dome intercepted four rockets fired at Tel Aviv; rockets struck a car in Ofakim, injuring 5, and a home in Ashdod, injuring 2; over 115 rockets fired into Israel since morning.
“An IDF spokesman said that during the day on Sunday, the IDF attacked over eighty terrorist targets, including rocket launching infrastructure and smuggling tunnels,” writes Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post.
More updates to come, but until then, Israel remains in the hearts and prayers of every Jew and Israel supporter, as we wait — if unrealistically — for peace.
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