Palestine is the hottest foreign policy issue upon which no politician will act.
What needs to be absolutely clear is that the Palestinian humanitarian crisis is not a partisan issue. Both U.S. parties have made their stance crystal clear—neither are willing to confront the Israeli government on an ongoing apartheid taking place in occupied territory.
It would be a futile effort to explain the long, conflict-ridden history surrounding the region in a short newspaper article. However, readers should understand that this is a humanitarian issue above all else. Treating this as a geopolitical conflict with equally powerful sides is simply incorrect.
A common misconception about the Palestinian crisis is that the issue is too complex for the outside world to act. While the issue is highly complicated, that hardly justifies the global community’s inaction.
One of the most recent incidents of Israeli oppression occurred toward the end of March. According to Al Jazeera coverage, 17 Palestinians were killed and 1,400 were injured when the Israeli army engaged protestors. The march was calling for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homelands.
This military engagement with protestors is not uncommon. While this latest incident yielded more staggering casualties, the Israeli army frequently engages peaceful protests (or children throwing rocks) with rubber bullets, tear gas and occasionally live ammunition.
According to BBC’s Israel/Palestine event timeline, in December, President Donald Trump ordered that the U.S. government recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Additionally, the order called for the U.S. embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv—the city most countries recognize as Israel’s capital—to Jerusalem. The move hasn’t happened yet, but it’s scheduled to occur in the near future.
Jerusalem is one of the most culturally significant cities for several religions that have spread across the globe. Israel seized the city from Palestinian control in 1967, in a brutal military conflict known commonly as the Six Day War. Since assuming control of the city, countries have been reluctant to recognize it as Israel’s capital.
The president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem was met with immediate backlash on the world stage—and very little action outside of Palestine.
A comprehensive Reuters article published on Dec. 29, 2017 detailed Palestinian protests against the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem. No Israelis were hurt. Many Palestinian protesters were injured by Israeli soldiers. These incidents, after filtering through American media, are seen as clashes between equally-powerful opposing forces.
The fact that the president’s decision to move an embassy—essentially to prove a point—has caused serious injury should alarm Americans. United States leadership cannot continue to make irrational decisions that cause this harm.
It doesn’t matter how many other countries denounce Israel’s decimating of Palestine. Until the United States takes a stand, very little is going to change. This is a decision that is, unfortunately, in the American people’s hands. Plagued by misinformation and overwhelming complication, many Americans appear to be content with letting a U.S. sanctioned apartheid unravel across the sea.
This isn’t a matter of expanding U.S. influence in the Middle East, gaining the favor of Arab nations or endorsing a religious group. Taking action to resolve this conflict is about protecting innocent civilian lives.
There is no simple solution to century-old conflict that has plagued the region, but Americans have to take that first step. Raising awareness for the situation and pressuring government representation is the only way citizens can push for change overseas.