It's been an interesting couple of weeks. All hell has broken out once more in the Gaza Strip, and depending on where you get your news, Israel might be saint or sinner in this issue. I stand where I've stood for as long as I can remember - with Israel. I stand with Israel in that Israel has a right to be an independent country. I stand with Israel and say that Israel has the absolute right (and indeed, responsibility) to defend itself when it's hammered with thousands of missiles courtesy of Hamas.
I wonder how people can stand with Hamas, a terrorist group by any definition, whose express desire is to destroy Israel, and a group that is supported by a frightening number of its religious leaders. Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi delivered a sermon on Friday, January 9th, in which he said, ""I address my first message to the aggressor Jews, those arrogant plunderers, who act arrogantly toward the servants of Allah in the land of Allah. In the past, the Jews spread corruption in the land twice, and Allah punished them both times, by setting as masters upon them people who tormented them, humiliated them, and made them bow their heads." Further on in the same address, broadcast by Al Jazeera TV, he said, "We Wait for the Revenge of Allah to Descend Upon Them [i.e. the Jews] – And, Allah Willing, It Will Be By Our Own Hands," and just in case you weren't sure what he felt, there's this: "Oh Allah, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam. Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people of Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, and You annihilated the people of 'Aad with a fierce, icy gale. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, You annihilated the people of 'Aad with a fierce, icy gale, and You destroyed the Pharaoh and his soldiers – oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one." (http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD218309) I just don't see any other way to understand this, as a Jew, and as a human being. The point here is not merely a Palestinian state - the point is to annihilate Jews. And if you still can doubt that, check out this little video... what a piece of work.. http://www.memritv.org/video.html
This is difficult for me, because I do get heated when the subject is raised. I try to maintain some objectivity, but it's doubly challenging because the majority of mainstream news here shows crying Palestinian children and women, for instance... but they don't say that the Palestinians use children and other civilians as human shields. They don't tell you that part of the reason that there are more Palestinian dead is that the Palestinians typically set up armaments in civilian buildings - so that when Israel retaliates, who is going to die? Civilians, of course.
We see on the news here so very much rhetoric about how dreadful Israel is, how terribly it's behaving - but I don't recall a single news report on the almost-daily shelling of Sderot, a small city in southern Israel... Sderot has the distinction of being the only city in the world that has a bomb shelter in a playground. It's not for PR purposes that they need that - it's because Sderot is so close to the border that when a missile is fired by Hamas, their citizens have 15 seconds to make it to a bomb shelter. That includes children. And old people. And everyone in between. See how far you could get in 15 seconds.
All around me, I hear people who have formed their opinions based on 3-minute sound bytes on the evening news. Some of these people are very close to me, and when I hear them declaim observations such as "Israel should just get out of Gaza. They're being bullies!" my heart aches. They might not see it this way, but they are talking about me when they say that. They have not heard what it's like for Israelis, and when they are challenged, dismiss the idea as "Israeli propaganda." It's as if, because Israel has not sustained as many civilian deaths, they must surely be the evil side of this story! What if we had said that during WW II? Who would've been the bad guys? The Americans, for sure... but that would ignore the fact that Nazi Germany had been the aggressor, and the equally important fact that the Allied Forces had better armaments, better training, etc.
Whether you have made up your mind about this or not, I urge you to check out some alternative media... besides the links above, you should check out www.sderotmedia.com and www.theisraelproject.org. A former friend of mine tells me dismissively that these are "pro-Israeli sites" and disdainfully asks why he should bother... well, because the other information you have is most definitely pro-Palestinian/pro-Hamas, and it's just not possible to form an educated opinion when you have only one source.