The following is a guest post written by my sister, Marissa Sidel, on the current conflict in Israel/Gaza. The opinions expressed are hers (although I agree with much of the text) and are posted unedited:

By Marissa Sidel

I try not to watch the news too often. It can be really depressing sometimes. Last night I caved in and watched an NBC special report on the current situation in Israel/Gaza. It was (for a change) a decent effort at being impartial and they tried to show both sides of the conflict. By the time Brian Williams was done his report I had gone through half a box of Kleenex.
So let’s state the obvious; I am Jewish. I love Israel and will stand with Israel unconditionally.

Watching the footage of Israelis run to bomb shelters literally stood my hair up. I think of my dear friends in Tel Aviv and Hadar Am who have families and can only imagine the absolute fear as they run for their lives. A girlfriend’s eldest son is there for the summer, she hasn’t stopped crying since last Monday.

My friend Moti sent me a picture of a rocket that landed 50 metres from his apartment and I immediately thought WTF?? Can you imagine Plattsburgh raining down missiles and rockets on Hampstead and Cote St Luc because by contrast, that’s how far away we are in our little shtetls.
Then I saw the footage of the hospital in Gaza and the immeasurable suffering of the people there. It broke my heart. So many families with dead relatives and injured children; so many destroyed homes and so little infrastructure left. How awful.
I took to the internet to try and make some sense of it devouring anything I could on what people are saying. What do the regular folk out there that are not emotionally invested in this conflict think? I was amazed.

In times past, the world was clearly anti-Israel. Pages and pages of commentary on cnn.com, the Times, the Post, you name it, all denouncing Israel for its vicious attacks on the Palestinian people. Today, opinions are very different.

Israel has not apologized for having a superior military and much of the commentary from those that say Israel attacks people with bombs who can only fight back with sticks are being schooled real fast.

I read where one man who was obviously not Jewish said that he does not think Israel should be penalized because it is “better” at defending its people.

Someone else discussed the “occupation” and the 1967 borders and the Balfour Declaration and about 200 comments popped up right away telling the guy that he needs to update his calendar and get over the past because fundamentally, Israel has a right to exist and it does exist and it thrives.There are the obvious right wing nuts that are calling for Gaza to be turned into a parking lot and equally left wing crazies calling for Israel’s complete and total evacuation of all Jewish people to…Madagascar? I bet Disney would make that into a real interesting cartoon.

How do we make sense of this as human beings?

The reality is, Israel is not going anywhere nor should it and people in Gaza cannot keep dying. I don’t want to hear any more about occupation and less than human conditions…the people of Gaza have been on their own since 2005 and have made no exceptional effort at building a country for themselves with infrastructure and even continue to call themselves refugees. 66 years of refugees…it sounds like an excuse at this point.

Expecting Israel to pack up and walk away from heavily securing the border because “only a few rockets come in” is ludicrous and unrealistic. In fact, I find it insulting to any rational human being when that argument is even mentioned.

Again, no other country in the world would tolerate even 1 rocket before they would retaliate. We can’t continue to discuss what the Turks did in 1845 because it’s just a dumb conversation.

Israel is not going anywhere. No land was stolen, no people were displaced. The Arab countries told all of the other Arabs living in Israel in 1967 to get out because they were going to clear the territory of the Jews. They didn’t succeed and now they want the territory back? Where else do we even entertain such a ridiculous premise for conversation?

But people keep dying and we are all humans and I cannot and will not accept that any mother or father in Gaza wants their kids to be in harm’s way anymore than any other parent. I don’t have kids, I have a dog and if someone looks at her sideways they get my full wrath…how can I be expected to believe that any mom or dad would feel differently?

It has been said many times that the Palestinians are lucky that Israel is their enemy. In the midst of bomb shelters and rocket attacks, uncertainty for the future, daily assaults from the press worldwide, Israelis continue to provide water and electricity to Gaza.Palestinians come to Israeli hospitals for major surgeries and basic human needs are provided which is more than any other enemy state would provide to a people bent on destroying them.

People like to throw around words like “apartheid state” and “occupation” but I promise they have no idea what those words mean. These are self-proclaimed intellectuals who hypothesize and pontificate from their comfy Manhattan walk ups or cushy homes on a quiet cul de sac somewhere in small-town USA or Canada. Ask the people of South Africa if they had world class doctors in world class hospitals working on their population during apartheid. Find out what kind of life the Tibetans lead under China who “occupies” them. Should I even mention Syria?

Why do we do this? Why do we continue to try and make peace with people who hate us? Why don’t we do like our neighbour Syria and just kill everyone; after all, no one really seems to care that almost 200 thousand innocents in Syria have died at the hands of their leader. Quite simply, it isn’t the Jewish way. Jews value life. We believe that every life is valuable, not just Jewish life. Israelis have said, stop attacking us and we will help you build Gaza. Be our partner in the future and we will work together and build 2 countries that will be the envy of the Middle East. Let go of the past and work towards the future and we will be there with you but how can men raised to hate and kill ever accept this? What would the leader of Hamas do if he had to give up arms tomorrow…become a pharmacist?
The answer must come from within Gaza. The people elected Hamas and they must tell Hamas that they don’t want war. The mothers and fathers of Gaza must be the voice of the next generation. Everyone (including Israel) must water their wine and accept we cannot and will not go backwards in time. Violence and war, murder and chaos cannot prevail. There has to be a voice of reason in this battle and I know it’s a mom out there who like my father, wants to watch her children graduate.
Until then, I’m stuck watching Brian Williams and using too much Kleenex.

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