The Fine Line Between Self Defense & War Crimes

Throughout the last several years most of my studies have focused on issues going on around Sub-Saharan Africa. However, becoming more involved with Amnesty International in the city and meeting people from around the world I became anxious to learn about more and more cultures around the world. The Israel-Palestine conflict has never been one that I personally have been as informed on as I would like, and it still is not. However, I do know the difference between right and wrong and after spending the last week researching it as much as I could I have very mixed feelings.

I know the history is extremely complex. However, within recent months the casualties of Palestinians have been extremely high and the Israeli government seems relentless. After seeing media report after report come out with higher numbers of children and civilian casualties I cannot grasp how people through social media and even President Obama are so heavily backing the government of Israel. Both sides, meaning the Israeli government and Hamas should be held accountable. I understand that Israel is an ally to the U.S., but I also know that Benjamin Netanyahu is known for committing war crimes and standing behind atrocities in the Gaza Strip where people are basically refugees in their own land with no freedoms or human rights granted to them at all. I don’t understand how people in the world or the U.S. can look at them getting murdered with more plans coming out to increase the violence and not want to help them. I agree, the extremist groups like Hamas are also killing Israelis, and those should be condemned as well. People seem to not understand that there are families, children, husbands and wives that are not in these militia type groups that can not have the world turn their back on them so that Israel can murder them in self defense to Hamas. I read today that 44% of Gaza is under the age of 15. That’s nearly half, and explains why the child causality rate is so high. How is this right and how can people not care?

I also understand that because of the complexities that Israel may be on the defensive in feeling that if they back down that the violence will switch. So where does it end? Will it always be whoever is the weaker will be the victim of the defensive attacks of the other and so forth? It’s been going on for years–what is the solution? All I know is I do not agree with the U.S. standing so firmly behind Israel. Allies or not, they are murdering people and planning a ground attack that will increase these numbers even further. I feel concerned for what will happen in the coming days for these people. It amazes me, as usual, that this much suffering and fear is going on for other humans and so many people can easily go about their daily lives and the news reports spend a total of 3 minutes reporting anything. I feel strong emotions knowing that at this moment that is going on. I’m continuing to learn more so if you have any resources or things you think would be good to know I am open for discussion.

As I was typing this, I saw protestors on the news that are currently in Time Square. They were orthodox Jews that were protesting in support to end the suffering for the people of Gaza. Gave me a little bit of hope to see interfaith work in action for good to go to sleep with. Reminded me of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization I’ve been following very closely lately and I strongly recommend. It’s been a rough weekend. Between this conflict and the M23 rebels approaching Goma in DRC makes me feel very fired up again to do something to help and try to find a way to change. A friend of mine posted this today, and it fit in pretty well.

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Let’s Change The World Together, Instead of Hurting it Divided

My writing and contributions to the Ohio University Interfaith Youth Core chapter as programming director:

For more on the OU Interfaith campaign visit the full blog

Although I do not consider myself to be a religious individual, I do find myself to be extremely passionate about helping others. In my college career I have had the privilege to learn and partipate in organizations and events that help with both international and local issues. Over this time I have learned a lot about the missunderstandings that lead to global conflicts and atrocities. I have learned these past three years that my goal in life is to work with international human rights issues, and I feel a strong pull toward Africa specifically. I have had the privledge to be a part of organizations such as Invisible Children, UNICEF, and Amnesty International. I also got to experience local poverty issues first hand when I interned for Good Works’ Walk for the Homeless. Through these I have found myself to be very sensitive and open-minded to many different people.

Although I don’t participate in a religious practice, I always remain open to learning about different affiliations that are out there. I think it’s important for them to be able to properly communicate to eliminate missunderstandings and conflicts, and therefore act collectively to do good for those in need. I find it ridiculous that there are so many wars that go on relating to religious differences.

I wanted to be a part of the interfaith movement because I’ve seen first hand, even in my own family, how religion can tear people apart.

If a diverse group of people can work together, share their beliefs and experiences, and learn from each other a lot more would be accomplished. An overarching theme among different religions is to follow what you believe in to give you morals and guidelines for how to be a good person in the eyes of what you might be worshipping. That is a great theme. That common interest should be remembered as a starting point for how to colaborate with those who may be different from yourself.

My vision for Ohio University would be to see people learning from one another, and becoming more open minded. From there they can take what they’ve learned and the new relationships they build to make a more effective change in our world for the better both at a local and international level.