The war between Gaza and Israel has made national headlines since it began this summer. A conversation about the conflict can quickly turn into a heated debate even between the best of friends. Some claim Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas' constant barrage of rockets while others criticize Israel for killing way too many civilians. From Glenn Greenwald's constant criticism of Israel to Sean Hannity's undying support for anything Israel does, you can pretty much find any opinion about the topic.
Regardless of what side of the debate you tend to agree with, innocent lives should never be forgotten. Life is precious and fragile and should never be taken for granted. At least all human beings should be able to agree with that supposition. War does not bring peace - it fuels hatred and disdain (fighting terrorists presents different challenges). The polarizing rhetoric from the international community does not help with this situation; we shouldn't choose sides, we should choose people.
What is it about humanity and its apparent propensity to justify the outright murder of innocent people just because it is "war?" How can we have any faith in the human race if we are so willing to cheapen any human life, let alone an entire country or community?
Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die." I think a more accurate portrayal of a situation like this is "when the people in power wage war, it's the innocent who die."
The devastation from the war between Gaza and Israel is absolutely stunning. According to a post-conflict housing assessment, rebuilding Gaza will take 20 years or more. The Gaza strip is home to roughly 1.8 million people and a large portion of the residential housing in the area has been utterly destroyed. The total bill to rebuild housing in the area is estimated at over $6 billion.
Already facing a significant housing deficit (75,000 units), Gaza is now in serious need of over 17,000 housing units to adequately provide housing for its civilians. Another 5,000 housing units are in serious need of repair.
Fortunately, Egypt helped broker a peace deal between Gaza and Israel and is currently working with the international community to present a long-term peace deal. Let's hope cool heads prevail and that both sides find a deal that works for everyone.
Let me be clear, neither side of this conflict is without blame. But I think it is about time we stop choosing sides and become a voice for people whose message is constantly drown out by the constant barrage of "media" reports. Who will speak up for the innocent people in Gaza? Who will speak up for the people in Israel who do not want to see innocent lives destroyed? Who will speak up for the child who lost his life way too soon because the adults who represent his "interests" can't get along?
We will never solve the problems in this world using the same thought processes that got us here in the first place. Don't choose sides, choose people. Don't choose governments, choose the people that governments purport to support. If we truly want peace, respect, and an absolute regard for other people, races, communities, countries, and religions - we all have some serious soul-searching to do. Solving this problem is certainly not as simple as I claim, but our base to solving this problem must be built with the very fabric that supposedly makes us civilized human beings. Until we can all mutually respect the sanctity of human life, you are safe in assuming peace will never be an achievable goal.
Breakdown of Casualties:
Israel: 71 killed (65 soldiers, 6 civilians), 530 injured
Palestine: 2,104 killed (1,462 civilians, 265 militants, 377 unknown), 11,100 injured
Photo Credit: Getty Images