Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
When I started writing columns, I told myself I’d never write about Israel-Palestine. Now, I’m really hoping this isn’t about to be one of those big college mistakes that tanks my future career.
That being said, the human costs of the current war are horrifying, and I feel obligated to join the majority of Americans in support of a ceasefire in Gaza. Moreover, it’s not only innocent children and Hamas that would benefit. Without one, Israel’s days are limited.
It’s simply a fact that the majority of American youth currently hold an unfavorable view toward Israel. While Congress and older Americans are very supportive of the country, they can’t stay in power forever, and it’s inevitable my peers will shape foreign policy when current leaders retire. When that happens, Israel will not be able to count on the extensive and special support the U.S. has historically provided.
For Israel, losing its moral compass in the eyes of the west — and especially American youth — is existential.
Make no mistake, Hamas’ reprehensible Oct. 7 attack was not the start of the hostility. It was the inevitable buildup of a long history of discontent. Israel has had enemies since the nation was founded, and the controversy goes back to ancient times.
Maybe Israel can demolish Hamas by force, but it’s currently on a path to ensure anti-Israel terrorism has a next generation from innocents who survive its quest to destroy Hamas. A Gazan child orphaned by these attacks is much more likely to grow up hating Israel and be vulnerable to ideologies that advocate for violence against Israelis. And it’s not just Palestinians. Many other states in the Middle East are not the biggest fans of Israel. Their citizens are watching the news and forming their own sympathies.
This is a complicated situation where Israel unequivocally has a responsibility to defend itself, yet it cannot effectively attack Hamas in Gaza without significant civilian casualties.
By seemingly bombing Gaza indiscriminately, putting a population that’s nearly half children in danger and potentially raising risk for hostages, Israel looks less and less righteous. The death of innocents, which can have justification but is never really just, combined with corrupt, undemocratic and right-wing extremists in government make absolute support for Israel difficult.
The Tom to Israel’s Jerry isn’t a single group of violent extremists. It’s all the antisemitic groups in the world, and all the governments that don’t want Israel to exist. The current goal of subduing Hamas misses the big picture and won’t guarantee immediate security either.
To win permanent safety for Jews, the state of Israel must remain legitimately worth aiding. The government cannot risk becoming an international pariah or too morally controversial, nor can it continue its authoritarian slide and contempt for Palestinian rights.
To many of my peers, Israel was a victim that is becoming a bully. A ceasefire in Gaza is a necessary start to regain support from international public opinion.
This is so crucial that even if Israel cannot secure the return of all hostages at once, it should still push toward a ceasefire — of course, with other conditions. Whatever recovery Hamas might make in the meantime can be countered by the Israeli military’s technological superiority and U.S. support. However, if organizations like Hezbollah and the Houthis commit all forces against Israel and the U.S. simultaneously decreases support, that could be a very different story. Losing future security support means all the lives lost since Oct. 7 will be in vain.
Force is not the only way countries protect themselves, and short-term military solutions alone don’t contribute to a permanent fix for Israel and Palestine. Lasting solutions require diplomacy and negotiation.
And no, though they are a positive step, the daily pauses in Gaza are not good enough. The point of a ceasefire is to demonstrate resolve toward solving the root conflict with minimal impact on civilians, including dismantling the antisemitic ideologies that created groups like Hamas.
This may sound idealistic and naive, but it’s not impossible and the global community cannot settle for any less. If we don’t achieve this, we’ll inevitably watch the same brutal slaughter in a few years.
This is how the world got rid of mainstream antisemitism in Germany post-WWII. No one went through and killed all Germans in an attempt to get rid of the antisemites and Nazis. We tried as many of the irredeemables as we could, attempted to rehabilitate the rest and taught their children how to live in a better world.
In a Middle Eastern context, transition to a peace process has to begin with a ceasefire. The U.S. and international community must patiently support those efforts even through agitation, extremism and threats of violence. In the meantime, Israel has to hold itself to a higher moral standard, because acting otherwise will cost the American support it needs.
Without a ceasefire, we embrace evil and re-spin the wheel of violence, hate and injustice. The world needs one to protect innocent Palestinans and Israelis alike.
Jessica Ye is a senior economics and government and politics major. She can be reached at email@example.com.