Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Middlebury Campus
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Israel and America Are They Winning Their Respective Battles?

Author: Brian Ashley

I would like to take this week's column to address two very separate issues. One concerns the responses to my last column and the other concerns the United States lead war against the Taliban and terrorism. As for the responses to my column, I would like to first say that they were well written and interesting. However, what disturbed me greatly was the underlying racism and hatred in the response by Becky Ruby. Ruby referred several times to the "Palestinian terrorists who strap bombs to themselves and detonate them on buses filled with Israeli families." From the way that she spoke of the Palestinian people one would think they do nothing but run around blowing up buses. However, such statements couldn't be further form the truth. The sole reason that the Palestinian people have resorted to the use of suicide bombers and guerilla warfare is that the constant oppression of their people by the United States and Israel has driven those close to their cause deeper underground and to more extreme levels. It is easy to dismiss a suicide bomber as a wacko extremist (as Ruby seems to imply) simply because they kill themselves in the process. However, I fail to see the moral difference between blowing one's self up on a crowded bus and military personnel shooting at children armed with rocks. Believe me, if the Palestinian government had helicopters and bombs with which to do the same to Israel as is done to them, we would not be having this discussion.

The other disturbing aspect of Ruby's article was her attempt to win Israeli support by somehow drawing a parallel between those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks and the Palestinian people. Ruby writes, "The recent influx of articles and programs critical of Israel in the Middle East on campus has come as a surprise to me, especially in light of the troubles America currently faces." The notion that we as a country should support Israel simply because their enemies pray to the same god as those who attacked the World Trade Center is as fallacious as it is racist. To group all Arabs together in such a manner is paramount to blaming an American Irish Catholic for the actions of the Irish Revolutionary Army.

Lastly, to those who criticize the Palestinian people for killing innocent Israelis, bear in mind that the five Palestinian boys who were killed recently on their way to a United Nations school were not killed by an undetonated mortar, but rather by a booby-trapped explosive device set by the Israeli army. The IDF admitted that under the cover of darkness, Israeli forces moved into the field outside a Palestinian neighborhood and set up explosive devices. While the bombs were said to be meant for Palestinian snipers, the sob story so often told by Israeli sympathizers that no Israeli feels safe in a café or on a bus falls apart at this juncture. Ruby even states, "No bus, no pizza parlor, no school, no dance club is safe from the violence of extremist Palestinian groups." This all-to-common justification for excessive force against Palestinian civilians by the IDF seems to lose its merit when five young boys cannot even walk to school without being murdered by state-sponsored Israeli terrorism. My point here is not that either side is ultimately right, but that the idea that the Palestinian people's religion or war tactics are no measure for the judgment of right and wrong.

As for the war in Afghanistan, we are not doing as well as the Bush administration would like the American people to think we are. First of all, the fact that we are winning in Afghanistan should not even be considered newsworthy material. What do you expect to happen when a group of technology-oppressing militants in an impoverished and war-torn country get invaded and attacked by the greatest military superpower in history? The front on which the United States is losing this war is the war for the people of Afghanistan. As Newt Gingrich put it, "[The United States] should be producing real product that is changing the lives of the people in 'liberated Afghanistan,' so it's live on television, so Al-Jazeera can go and interview people who are saying, 'God, I'm glad the Americans won – my kids have a flush toilet.'" So far we are doing an extremely poor job of accomplishing this very noble goal. The first major hurdle (emphasis on major) that the United States. faced in its attempts to deliver food to the liberated Afghanis was that the hunger-relief packages that the United States dropped just happened to be the exact same color of high-visibility yellow as the explosive charges released by the cluster bombs that we were simultaneously dropping. Unfortunately, cluster bombs are famous for their low rate of initial detonation. In some cases, such as Desert Storm, the bombs have only a 50 percent detonation rate (due to landing in soft ground or sand), leaving thousands of undetonated charges littered throughout Afghanistan. As you can imagine, those people who grab cluster bomb charges instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Tang mix most likely are not huge fans of the United States right now.

Beyond cluster bombs and food drops, this war is just not being fought in an efficient or intelligent manner. First off, the very people who could not find Osama bin Laden for more than six years, the Central Intelligence Agency, are the same ones trying to find him now. Secondly, this is George W. Bush's war being fought by Clinton's generals and intelligence. The two styles mix worse than oil and water and only yield confusion and ineffective attacks. The United States proclaimed victory in the first round of the war. We are patting ourselves on the backs for allowing Afghanis to shave their beards, uncover their faces and watch movies and television, but in fact we are hurting badly. In the words of Mr. Gingrich, "The fact is, we are not currently winning at home. I don't regard six thousand dead Americans as winning the first round. We haven't caught anybody in the anthrax problem. We haven't caught anybody in this country, that I know of yet, on Al Qaeda's side, and we haven't caught bin Laden. How can we have won the first round?"