As the scope of ISIS and international terror extends beyond the confines of the Middle East, many of us in Europe and North America have woken up to a reality which Israelis know all too well. The threat of violent attacks on random civilian targets, suicide bombers and the like are experiences, though frighteningly novel on the streets of Paris, which are all too familiar to the residents of the State of Israel. Yet, one hardly hears mention of the near daily attacks occurring against Israeli civilians, even as terrorist activities across the globe have seemingly monopolized American media coverage.
I believe that one reason we in America seem to ignore the violence currently mounting in Israel is because the U.S. news outlets choose to play up the divisiveness of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, rather than call a stabbing or shooting attack against Israeli (and even some American) civilians for what it is: an act of terror.
Media sensationalism surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict creates a dichotomous choice for Americans today. Israel is now painted as a white vs. black issue, a liberal vs. conservative position. As a person of color, I often hear the charges of Israeli “apartheid” reverberating within my communities. I have been told that Israel is a “colonial-settler state”, one of the last vestiges of European domination over an oppressed, indigenous people.
Yet, Israel is not a colony; it is the homeland of the Jewish people. Painting Israel as anything less is a misnomer at its best and sheer propaganda at its worst.
In the winter of 2014, I traveled to Israel with the Anti-Defamation League. The Israel I visited looks nothing like the pictures or stories I have heard about South Africa of the 20th century. There I witnessed Israelis of all stripes and colors, Ashkenazi Jews, Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, black Jews from Ethiopia, Druze, Christians and Muslim Arabs walking the same streets, living side by side, going about their daily lives, and peacefully coexisting despite the ongoing conflict.
Certainly there is a reasonable debate to be had concerning Israeli government policies, particularly on such contentious issues as settlements in the West Bank and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (or lack thereof). Yet, regardless of whether you agree or disagree, stabbing and shooting innocent civilians is not a solution to address political grievances. It is no more acceptable in Israel than it is in France. It is terrorism, and it is an affront to our democratic principles and liberal ideas of a just global society. We must call the terror currently facing Israel what it is, so that we can come together to stand against such heinous atrocities.
Being pro-Israel, does not mean that I am against the Palestinians. It is not a zero-sum game. I want both Jews and Palestinians to live in a safer world. But, by supporting Israel, we Americans are supporting the only democratic government in the Middle East, and ensuring our commitment to the liberal ideals of liberty and justice for all.
Unfortunately, however, the alliance between the U.S. and Israel that has been a robust piece of American foreign policy for decades has increasingly become a political issue in recent years, politicization which I believe damages the integrity of our vital relationship. At such a critical juncture in the war against terror, we need the support of one of our strongest and truest allies, and they need our support as well.
As a Democratic candidate for District 41 of the Florida House of Representatives, I am working to restore the resiliency of the bipartisan support for the State of Israel.
I could easily expound the numerous benefits of a strong US-Israel relationship, and I hope to enumerate some benefits specific to local American communities such as mine in Florida in upcoming posts. But I would like to emphasize what I believe to be the strongest reason behind my support for Israel: it is the just thing to do.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The violent attacks against Israelis are no different, no less unjust than the shootings of innocent civilians in France or anywhere else. To excuse terrorism as a natural part of a complex political conflict in Israel opens the door for the justification of terrorism everywhere else. I for one, however, cannot reconcile such apologetics with my liberal values.
I, Nicolas Garcia, a liberal, Mexican-American Democrat running for the Florida House of Representatives, stand with victims of terror wherever they may be.