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The Student News Site of Horizon High School

The Profile

The Student News Site of Horizon High School

The Profile

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Arguments for a Ceasefire in Gaza

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace protest for a ceasefire in Buffalo, NY, courtesy of spectrumlocalnews.com
Members of Jewish Voice for Peace protest for a ceasefire in Buffalo, NY, courtesy of spectrumlocalnews.com

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace protest for a ceasefire in Buffalo, NY, courtesy of spectrumlocalnews.com

 

On October 7, 2023, the Islamist military organization Hamas initiated an attack along Israel’s southern border with Palestine’s Gaza Strip, killing around 1,000 civilians. This prompted retaliation from Israeli forces to declare war against Hamas. Since then, the Gaza Strip where Hamas has been hiding has been undergoing a large-scale assault, and at the moment that this article is being written, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 25,000.

The United States, allies of Israel who aided in its initial creation following WWII, has supplied the state with billions of dollars in military aid. But despite America’s allyship, an increasing number of Americans are sympathetic toward Palestinians and urge for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Boycotts, strikes, and protests in favor of Palestine have become prominent in recent weeks as an increasing number of people believe that ceasing Israeli involvement in Gaza is the best option.

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What are the arguments that pro-Palestinian Americans are making for a ceasefire?

The most common argument is that Israel is not engaging in “self-defense” for the October 7th attack, but rather engaging in a genocide of the Palestinian people. With the heavy civilian losses that total around 25 times the amount killed on October 7th, Israel is being accused of focusing more on causing destruction to Palestine and killing its people than its initial goal of weeding out Hamas.

This argument holds court in the United Nations, in which South Africa has recently formally accused Israel of committing genocide in hopes that the U.N. will issue a preliminary order that calls for a ceasefire. South Africa claims that 85% of Gaza’s residents have been driven from their homes. In addition, access to relief and aid has been limited to the point where Gaza could face starvation. Despite Israel’s claims that the Israel Defense Forces are targeting Hamas and doing its utmost to prevent civilian casualties, Israel overpowers the Gaza Strip with military power, and as such its blocking of aid can be seen as a deliberate act to weaken Gaza.

In addition to South Africa, many American groups have called for a ceasefire. Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization of anti-Zionist Jewish Americans, is one such group. On their website, they argue that Zionism, the post-WWII movement to establish a Jewish nation by which Israel was created in 1948, is a “settler-colonial movement” that aims to establish an “apartheid state” based on a “racist hierarchy”. By Israel taking land that belonged, at that time, to Palestine and creating a Jewish state, the group says, they are betraying the community and harmony that Judaism values.

In protests led by Jewish Voice for Peace across the country, protesters bear signs reading “Never again to ANY people” and “Not in our name”, insisting that another genocide not be committed, let alone by the group that was the target of the first one. They insist that Judaism and Zionism can be mutually exclusive and that Israel is unjustified in how they are treating Gaza.

Another prominent source that has resonated among pro-Palestinian Americans comes from none other than Palestine itself. Journalists from Gaza by the names of Motaz Azaiza and Bisan Owda have been continually taking photos and videos of the fallout from Israel’s attacks, posting them on social media to gain traction. Together they have an Instagram following of around 23 million followers and have gained significant traction.

As a result of Palestinian journalists’ content spreading, Pro-Palestinian Americans have concluded that the ends do not justify the means when it comes to this war. The death toll of innocent Palestinians and the destruction of Gaza, in the opinions of the protestors, are far too heavy.

The history of this conflict is multifaceted. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, there came a push for the establishment of a Jewish home nation in Bethlehem. Palestine was already established there, however, and what followed was an intense conflict over who had the rights to the land that continues today. Hamas was formed in 1987 as a militant group operating in the Gaza Strip against Israeli occupation and has initiated attacks on the border areas between Israel and Palestine, the most recent and notable of which being on October 7.

Many factors contribute to Americans calling for a ceasefire, from the ramifications of Gaza’s destruction to arguments about Israel’s motivation for the bombing. They insist that just because the United States is backing Israel doesn’t mean Americans have to as well, and that there’s nothing wrong about seeing Palestinian points of view. Amidst this time of protest, it’s important to remember that every conflict has two sides, and examining both is important to making educated decisions about who to support.

 

*Image credit: https://hyperallergic.com/851106/jewish-groups-call-for-gaza-ceasefire-in-white-house-protest/

 

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About the Contributor
Grace Hilliard, Assistant copy editor and Marketing and Social Media Director
This is Grace’s first year in journalism- and only year, as they graduate in May! Grace loves writing, art, and storytelling, and she hopes to get some a career in some kind of storytelling field (the dream would be a graphic novelist!). Beyond journalism, they do Battle of the Books and Theater, where they delight in being able to connect with others and discuss, tell, and act stories. In her free time she enjoys drawing, reading, listening to music, playing Minecraft, and watching animated shows.

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