I am deeply concerned about the way in which my words were used in the article “Students to raise money for Gaza victims this month” (1/17/2010). While I understand that controversy is a sure-fire way to get people to read newspapers, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a sensitive matter for many people on campus, and causing tension through miscommunication is both irresponsible and unfortunate. I feel that my statements were taken out of context and were used in a fragmented way. Quite frankly, the statements that are attributed to me add nothing of value to the article.
Nonetheless, given the extent of the criticism elicited by my comment that “there was value to the Gaza war,” I feel obligated to clarify what I meant by this statement. The last thing I wanted to do was be flippant about the loss of human life. I, along with the rest of Chicago Friends of Israel, regret the loss of human life that came out of last year’s Operation Cast Lead. It is truly unfortunate that so many civilians got caught in the crossfire of the conflict.
But the fact that Israeli civilians had to endure eight years of rocket attacks is something that is often overlooked when discussing the Gaza war. These rocket attacks have made life in southern Israel unbearable. For instance, in Sderot, a town that lies less than three miles from the border with Gaza, there is no place that is more than a fifteen second run from a bomb shelter. The Israel Defence Force, acting within its rights to defend its citizens, had no choice but to take action.
I do not wish to stir up controversy, but from an Israeli perspective, Operation Cast Lead did restore some tranquility to Southern Israel. In 2008, (prior to Operation Cast Lead), 1750 rockets and 1528 mortar bombs were fired against Israel. Since the war, this number has fallen dramatically. Moreover, given Israel’s history in the Middle East—we’ll take any period of peace we can get, no matter how brief.
Class of 2012
President, Chicago Friends of Israel