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Seth L. Ewing: Put aside arrogance

The crisis in the Middle East is escalating beyond all control.

Several students have asked me about the situation there. I think that the attitude in Israel and Palestine is the same arrogant attitude that a majority of Americans had here when we were attacked by terrorists Sept. 11, 2001.

Nobody paused to ask the question: Why did this happen? Is it possible that our actions, at least in part, provoked these attacks?

Instead of asking these questions, we just assumed that the terrorists were evil and that we were on the righteous side. This is a very simplified explanation to a complicated problem. Now certain people are using the same rhetoric to explain what is happening in the Gaza Strip.

After World War II, the United Nations decided that it would be appropriate to relocate the Holocaust survivors to Israel -- a move that seemingly makes no sense at all in retrospect.

If I'd been on the U.N. Security Council, I would have suggested giving the Jews a homeland in the Utah desert. Maybe giving the Jews their original homeland was seen as a reward for their sufferings, which makes sense if you don't take into account the ramifications that we endure now.

Once again the Jews took Israel by force. I feel that what is happening now has a lot less to do with history than many believe.

I argue that the fighting endures because of personal revenge. If you are a Palestinian or Israeli, you keep fighting because you want to avenge the death of your brother. It does not help either that there's a revival of religiousness that advocates genocide. This is especially true in the case of certain sects of Islam whose followers call for the destruction of Israel.

But I really don't think this has anything to do with an ancient ritual of killing, even though the history proves my point otherwise. At least I hope so.

I suggest that three things need to happen: first, a shift in attitude; the hatred must stop. Second, Palestine must be recognized as its own country.

Third, the U.S. must stop sending aid to Israel. We don't need to show any support to either Palestine or Israel because as Americans we are above ruthless genocide and bully-boy tactics.

Wait a minute, you're saying -- we just invaded two countries (Iraq and Afghanistan) and this is hypocritical?

At least we can start by admitting that we were wrong. I mentioned earlier that history points to a tradition of killing, but it doesn't have to be that way. History could be used as an example that war causes more problems than it solves.

According to an article in The Economist, Israel has been trying to undermine Hamas, the ruling regime of Palestine, by slapping unjust economic blockades on them. Now Israel is sniveling that the rocket attacks are allegedly unprovoked.

The more you investigate the relationship of the two places, it becomes increasingly ambiguous as to who to cast blame. Also, Israel has used a heavy hand to deal with a relatively small nuisance. In the first three days of the conflict, Israel suffered only four deaths as compared to Palestine's 350 -- a majority of them innocent civilians, including women and children.

Whatever happened to human decency?

Merced College graduate Sara Almario, who recently transferred to Fresno State, sums it up: "I got confused when I saw the Muslim population in the Fresno rallies saying Israel must be stopped when it's common 'worldwide' knowledge that the people on the wrong side is the political party Hamas. This is not even a religious war anymore; it's about intolerance and hatred. My point of view is: There are about a thousand dead people in Gaza now, and about 90 percent of them are innocent civilians. Both sides should just agree to the ceasefire."

I conclude that the only sensible solution is to put aside arrogance and agree to peace.

Seth L. Ewing writes on issues concerning the students of Merced College and UC Merced. He's a combat veteran of Iraq and now is an advocate of peace. He studies at Merced College.