A Palestinian suicide bomber shattered a nine-month streak of tense peace with Israel on Monday, killing three Israelis at a bakery and promising another dent in the U.S. reputation in the Middle East.
The ongoing conflict is a major factor in the region’s instability, and American backing of Israel is a reason that many Arab nations distrust or despise the U.S., said Saudi native Zaki Safar, president of the CSU Muslim Student Association.
“(President George Herbert Walker Bush) said (U.S. forces) went into the Gulf War because they wanted to kick Saddam out of Kuwait,” Safar said Monday evening. “But if you look at Palestine, Israel has occupied Palestine since 1967, yet the U.S. is turning a blind eye to that – it’s a double-standard.”
Officials from Hillel, a Jewish student group at CSU, were unreachable for comment Monday evening.
Because of this and other historical conflicts and foreign policy blunders, Safar said that many in the Middle East have well-founded doubts about the intentions of the current administration.
CSU political science department Chair Bill Chaloupka said the struggle between Israel and Palestine has long been a rallying cry
among Arab states.
“It’s a focus no matter what else is going on – you can always fire a rhetorical barb at Israel and it will be well received in your (Arab) country,” Chaloupka said.
“That’s not entirely rhetorical or public relations – it’s politics;
leaders making sure their citizens are willing to make sometimes
pretty awful sacrifices in order to continue with the struggle,” he
said. “And it’s a call that works in the Muslim states.”
Israel, a country slightly larger than New Jersey, was formed in 1948 following the Holocaust on land inhabited by Palestinians, who claimed the right to it. After the Six Day War in 1967, Israel’s territory expanded.
The nation wields a powerful military and is surrounded by hostile nations. U.S. leaders have considered Israel a steadfast ally in the Middle East for decades, dating back to Cold War struggles in the region – an alliance that has continued into the War on Terror.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has made frequent stops there in an attempt to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Last year, Hamas, a radical, anti-Israel faction, took control of the Palestinian government, halting any hopes for a resolution.
Safar cited Israel’s recent conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon to show how U.S. policy frustrates those in the Middle East – he said the Bush administration sent blankets to Lebanese citizens and bombs to Israel.
“If only the American administration would … follow the definition of an American person, of defending freedom, of standing up for justice,” Safar said, “there wouldn’t be any conflict over there.”
“As long as there’s no justice, there’s no peace.”
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