3 nationalities. 2 people. 1 goal. Our thoughts on the latest in international affairs.
Marred by wanton violence and tragedy, the past few weeks have shed light on the atrocities occurring around the globe.
In Gaza, Hundreds of children have literally been torn apart – limb from limb – by Israeli air strikes in Operation Protective Edge. In Ukraine, nearly 300 innocent people were murdered when a commercial flight was shot-down out of the sky by Russian-backed separatists. The images and footage emerging from both tragedies are stark and chilling.
In his first address, President Obama acknowledged that
…all of [these challenges] require American leadership.
Indeed they do, Mr. President. And now more than ever.
Not surprisingly, President Obama spent the bulk of all three speeches focusing on the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, emphasizing his strong condemnation of Moscow’s complicity.
In a show of poor leadership and political correctness, President Obama has regularly avoided speaking at length or accepting questions on the Israel-Gaza crisis.
There’s no avoiding it: the United States will always be tied to the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From military aid to diplomatic summits, the United States has been there since the inception of the rivalry.
As the conflict in the Holy Land has intensified and left hundreds dead, President Obama has done little except for ceremoniously reiterate the United States’ “deep concern” and its belief in “Israel’s right to defend itself.”
But does self-defense grant the Israeli government carte blanche to lead a systematic air-strike campaign on one of the most densely populated areas in the world?
Hamas is notorious for its indiscriminate rocket fire over the Israeli border – which cannot be disputed – and Israeli officials constantly cite these aggressions when justifying their military campaign.
However, the New York Times reports that Israel fired 500 more rockets into Gaza than Hamas fired into Israel in the first nine days of the recent conflict. At what point does defense become offense?
(Image courtesy of the NYT)
Fourteen days of fighting have left at least 556 Palestinians and 27 Israelis dead. The vast majority of the Israeli casualties came when the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge began, which both the president and the entire US Senate supported. Before the ground offensive, Israel’s “Iron Dome” air defense system – funded and developed by the United States – insured that Israel suffered minimal losses.
Unfortunately, the lives of Gaza’s citizens are not protected by similar sophisticated air defense systems. To many, this appears as an indirect United States preference for the livelihood of one people over the other, and that is not acceptable.
As President Obama customarily began each address to our nation with “Israel has a right to defend itself,” his words rang hollow in the ears of protestors in Chicago, Rabat, Cape Town, London, Sao Paulo, Amman, Madrid, Dublin, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and other places.
In a strategic failure, the United States ceded diplomatic authority to the newly elected and anti-Islamist Egyptian government of ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, which failed miserably. (See: Hamas-Egypt relations)
US Secretary of State John Kerry is making his way to Cairo to help with the cease-fire talks, but arriving fashionably late to a bloodbath does not quite console the victims.
I know – Hamas ended the cease-fire; Hamas fired rockets into Israel; Hamas has a tunnel system allowing its militants to enter Israel unlawfully; Hamas hides its weapons in schools. I do not dispute any of this, nor do I condone it.
However, I also do not condone one of the world’s most powerful air forces and sophisticated armies waging a relentless military campaign in a 25-mile long sliver of land.
And I most certainly do not condone the refusal of my president to even speak about it.