Dear Decaturish – Readers weigh in on Israel and PalestineMembers of the Atlanta Jewish community attend a vigil to help them to process the Israel-Hamas war. “We’re really trying to create a place where people feel safe to enter into those feelings and to process some of the trauma of being in this place again as a Jewish community,” a local rabbi who organized the vigil said. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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We write in response to the violence in Israel and Palestine. We urge our friends and neighbors to use their influence to help create space for de-escalation and meaningful dialogue in order to urgently avert a deepening humanitarian crisis and military conflict that could cost many more lives than have already been tragically lost.
Indiscriminate attacks on civilians violate international law. We condemn the Hamas attacks on civilians and the taking of civilian hostages. We also condemn the savage response of the Israeli Government in bombing Gaza and targeting the civilian population. Tightening the blockage and completely cutting off water, electricity, food, and fuel constitute collective punishment that will create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza, exceeding that which already exists as a result of the 16-year blockade.
We are appalled by the continued violence in the region and ask everyone to join in calling for dialogue and de-escalation. All sides must take measures for the immediate protection of civilians, including a ceasefire, adherence by all parties to international law, and the UN’s call for humanitarian corridors.
The international community has not prioritized concerns about land, peace and security that have existed since the founding of Israel. The only way to break the cycle of violence and build a lasting peace is to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. Leaders on all sides must move to create conditions of justice, equality and peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.
As people of faith, we stand against the Islamophobia and antisemitism that many individuals in this country face as a result of violence in the Middle East. We call upon leaders to work to de-escalate these tensions.
We ask everyone to avoid polarized arguments and apportioning blame. Especially, do not support measures that rely on military security but instead call on all sides to work for a lasting peace based on justice, security, and equality for all.
Mark Reeve and Leslie Withers
As a world leader, the United States has plenty of conditional allies and even occasionally helpful frenemies, but when the chips are down that list of nations who always have our backs gets pretty short pretty quickly. Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, and most of the time Australia…we have dozens of nations who depend on U.S. aid and assistance for their survival and many friends in Latin America, Europe, and parts of Asia, but in a real pinch domestic priorities and international relations in that moment tend to dictate the volume and level of response.
The United Kingdom and the U.S. have an as always stated special relationship. Canada is both our largest trade partner and our often most overlooked ally. But when we speak of military allies in other parts of the globe and particularly when actions speak louder than say the words and occasional pontifications of NATO, the EU, or the G-7, ties to the people and government of Israel are among the strongest.
The first surviving written reference to the people of Israel was by an Egyptian Pharoah Merneptah from 1209 B.C., “Israel is laid waste, and his seed is not.” Jesus Christ himself was a Jew, born near Bethlehem, not far from Jerusalem and the western bank of Palestine.
Our friends of the Jewish faith have had problems with their neighbors almost ever since. The region came under Persian rule during the Ottoman Empire, colloquially known as the Turkish Empire, from 1299-1922. Outlasting by several centuries the Roman Empire, the Ottoman/Persian/Turkish Empire would reach its peak of influence during the 1700s, but would also continue through the onset of World War I. During these centuries, the Middle East, including modern-day Israel, experienced a significant migration of Muslims and other tribes and faiths, from an empire based in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey).
The Ottoman Army entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers (including Germany and Austria-Hungary). On the losing side of WWI, and fully defeated, during October 1918 and the Armistice of Mudros, most Ottoman territories were divided between Britain, France, Greece, and Russia.
The fading but still mighty British Empire would have domain over the bulk of the Middle East from the end of WWI through 1956. The axis of Britain’s Middle Eastern empire stretched from the Suez Canal in Egypt, across Saudia Arabia, and almost the entire Persian Gulf.
In February of 1945, an ailing Winston Churchill and frail President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to divvy up the global spoils of World War II. Germany was divided, Poland’s historic borders were restored, and Russia graciously accepted the domain of virtually all the rest of Eastern Europe, excluding Turkey and Greece.
The nation of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, along with United Nations Resolution 181, which relinquished British control of Palestine and called for a two-state solution with the creation of a Jewish State (Israel), to be followed by the creation of an Arab state. The latter never happened.
To this day, the Palestinians refer to that date as Nabka, translated as a day of catastrophe. Israeli leaders have on the other hand agreed to several different versions of a ‘two-state solution’ on nearly half a dozen occasions. In each of those instances, it has been the Palestinians, Arabs, Hamas, and others who have said “no” to such compromise.
Through these centuries there has been however only one constant, whether, through the Holocaust, or other attempts at global extermination, it is the nation of Israel which is almost always attacked and lives in constant preparation for that day which has now come, from the ruling government of Hamas inside the heavily populated Gaza strip, which has a primarily civilian population exceeding 2 million, within the borders of Israel.
But regardless of the tragic outcomes and with much more blood to likely be shed, I know enough about history to see the most injured party, as well as among our most loyal of allies. I stand completely and clearly with the nation, the leadership, and the people of Israel.
And I still stand with Ukraine, too. This world has good actors, allies, and enemies alike. Unfortunately, there will still be times when we need to make and keep our stand and remain willing to fight the good fight. Red has long been a favorite color of mine, but royal blue is starting to grow on me, a primary color in both the flags of Israel and Ukraine…though I will never quite come around to that other Ukrainian flag color of yellow.
— Bill Crane
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