All over the world, and especially in the Middle East, America is strongly disliked, even hated.
Insurgents in Iraq and radicals elsewhere are never short of recruits to carry out violence against America.
But why? What did we ever do to them? The average Middle Eastern citizen does not simply harbor an irrational hatred for America.
The reason we are so hated is, in large part, because of our actions regarding Palestine and Israel.
In 1948, Israel was created as a home for Jews so that they would always have a safe haven if another Holocaust were to occur.
The new Jewish state was made from what used to be Arab land, making it the enemy of all surrounding Arab states who still do not recognize it as a state, but the U.S. did so immediately.
The Jewish people deserved a place to call home. But how many Americans would have accepted the plan if Illinois was chosen as the new Jewish homeland?
Would we have given up our homes, our land and our resources without a fuss?
Yet, ever since Israel’s creation, the U.S. has consistently accepted its actions against the Palestinians but never Palestine’s actions.
For example, recently four Israelis were killed by rocket attacks from Hamas. These casualties are tragic and should by no means be taken lightly, but did not justify Israel’s next move.
Israel launched an all out ground attack on Gaza killing more than 1,000 Palestinians, 400 of which were women and children according to ifamericansknew.org.
These victims’ crimes were the same as those of the Israeli victims of the rocket attacks – being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Then, in one of Israel’s most brazen violations of the ceasefire established by the United Nations, Israeli tanks were sent into Gaza killing two, according to the Montreal Gazette.
This pattern of disproportionate response is not new for Israel. Thousands of innocent Palestinians have been killed by Israeli aggression in recent years.
But the U.S. is guilty too.
Long before this most recent Gaza invasion, Palestinians held a legitimate democratic election.
The result of the election was a definitive Hamas victory.
Because the U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization, America refused to recognize the new government and cut off aid to the country, as if to punish them for making the wrong choice at the polls.
America should support democracy, whether the victor was our preferred party or not.
Hamas may be a terrorist organization, but they provide services to Palestinians the government cannot, such as building schools, hospitals, libraries and other social services.
The Associated Press estimated that 90 percent of Hamas’ funds are spent on social services.
While the terrorist group Hamas provides education and welfare for the Palestinian people, the U.S. and Israel are doing just the opposite.
Last year, with U.S. support, Israel created a blockade around Gaza in retaliation to Hamas for rocket attacks against Israel. As a result, critical supplies like food, water and fuel were denied to the Palestinian people.
They were left hungry and without electricity for weeks until Egypt finally opened Gaza’s southern border.
Is it any wonder Hamas won the elections? Palestinians voted, just like Americans would, for the party that gave them food, water and education, regardless of their political ideology.
While the bloody struggle between Israel and Palestine grinds on, the U.S. continues to provide unprecedented amounts of military aid to Israel.
For the next eight years, the U.S. has promised Israel $3 billion a year in military aid.
Palestine used to receive only a fraction of that for humanitarian aid but even this small amount is frequently revoked as political leverage.
It is time the U.S. condemned Israel’s violent overreactions and oppression of the Palestinian people, as well as Hamas terrorist violence.
But next time a Palestinian border is closed or territory invaded, think of the people.
Hundreds killed, thousands more injured and hundreds of thousands more without food, clean water or electricity.
That is why they hate us.
Michael Kittleson is a freshman public relations major from Byron. He is a Scout staff reporter.
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