Yesterday Israel began a new campaign against Hamas involving heavy bombing and potentially an invasion of the Gaza Strip. As the Washington Post reported, Hamas has sworn retaliation by any means available, including increasing rocket attacks on civilians and suicide bombings. However, the spokesman for Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert countered by explaining his government’s intention of continuing its belligerence until “a new security environment” is achieved and the safety of Israeli citizens secured. The report from Al Jazeera states that the first forty-eight hours of conflict have caused nearly 900 casualties, including 287 dead in Gaza, figures which the Israeli government denies. Important supply tunnels used by the Palestinian population were also damaged, and Syria has stopped its peace negotiations with Israel in protest of this renewal of hostilities after half a year of ceasefire.
Obama has been in contact with Sec’y of State Condoleeza Rice to stay updated on the situation in Gaza, monitoring events there in anticipation of his inauguration. He is expected to continue U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and promised during his campaign to remain supportive of Israel. Highly relevant to these intentions, of course, are many of Ron Paul’s congressional statements about American policy in the region. Several years ago, Paul argued for a different approach to our relations to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: rather than being “pro-Israel or pro-Arab, or anti-Israel or anti-Arab,” we might be “pro-American.” Paul continues:
I would like to have neutrality. That has been the tradition for America, at least a century ago, to be friends with everybody, trade with everybody, and to be neutral, unless somebody declares war against us, but not to demand that we pick sides in every fight in the world. Yet, this is what we are doing…We have a policy that is doomed to fail in the Middle East; and it fails slowly and persistently, always drawing us in, always demanding more money.
Ironically, as Paul explained in 2007, American foreign aid to the Middle East hurts Israel, our supposed ally, more than it helps. At a significant cost to the American taxpayer, we send billions to both sides of the conflict, “some of which ends up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Both sides have far more military weapons as a result. Talk about adding fuel to the fire! Our foolish and unconstitutional foreign aid has produced more violence, not less.”Published in