Steven Aiello

Perspectives on Peace: Message # 2

The following is a personal message from a young Jewish Israeli student living in Israel. This is the second in a series designed to give a feeling for what the next generation’s leaders are thinking and feeling. The first is available here. If you are interested in submitting a piece of any length, please contact me. The submissions will all be anonymous

“To my non-Israeli friends who take the time to read this, I hope this will give you a better understanding of what is really happening here. To my Israeli friends who actually take the time to read this, I’m sure you did well on your English finals.

This is my third attempt to write something optimistic and yet it seems that I have failed once again. The first time nothing optimistic came to mind, the second time I was interrupted by a warning siren, and this time, well… I won’t be so optimistic. We begin the second week of Operation Protective Edge (Israel’s current operation against the Hamas in the Gaza strip in response to hundreds of rockets recently fired towards Israel) and yet neither peace nor a cease fire seem to be on the horizon. The Scout’s summer camps that I generally attend have either been cut short or canceled due to the obvious lack of a bomb shelter in the middle of a forest. Hundreds of parents are afraid to let their kids leave home out of the fear that the warning sirens might go off. Mothers are worried to drive with more than one child in the car in fear that she won’t be able to run with them and reach a safe area in time. This is no reality to live in.

One Jewish Democracy amongst a sea of totalitarian Arab neighbors struggles to, in the words of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, “Provide for the common defense, and secure the blessings of Liberty” As reserve solders are called up, countless sirens in all parts of the state blare, and missiles are intercepted and exploded above us, The Israeli public seems to have forgotten the social, economic, and political problems that flooded the media only a month ago. A year and a half ago we were in the same situation and it seems we have come a full circle.

So what do we do now? NO Country would tolerate being bombarded with bombs on a daily basis, and Israel is no exception. Yet Israel has been tolerating this for nine years; it only became an international incident when Israel finally decided to retaliate. Young children in in the Negev grow up under rocket fire, and the reality of a warzone is the only reality they have ever known. Those with homes in southern Israel have been suffering for years what those who live in Tel Aviv are only now experiencing, and the time has come for an end. An end to the suffering from both sides.

When Apple introduced its first IPhone with the slogan “There’s an app for that” it is safe to say they didn’t imagine that among those would be an app that tells citizens when they need to run to the nearest bomb shelter. A few days ago I was at a friend’s birthday party at the beach when the sirens went off. A minute and a half was not nearly enough to swim ashore and reach a shelter so everyone just laid down and covered their heads on the sand…. Two French tourists who were flirting with the girls sat crying against the wall not knowing what to do, while doing their best to mimic what we were doing.

While the terrorists who killed Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali will most likely be praised by their peers, the Israelis that killed Abu Hadir will be brought to trial and justice will be served. As Hamas calls upon the citizens of Gaza to go to the roofs of terror sites to deter the Air force from striking, it calls for the blood of the citizens of Israel.

Statistically since you began reading this anywhere between one and three rockets have been fired at Israel. Since Operation Protective Edge, over 300 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome System, and at 50,000 USD per interception, the cost of intercepting one missile, that is fifteen million dollars that could have gone towards aid.

1228 tons of food, 290000 liters of fuel (76610 Gallons), and three trucks of medical supplies have been sent to Gaza and the border is still open during the Operation. Living in a warzone is not easy, if not impossible. Both sides have suffered enough but it seems that time and time again Hamas has proved that it doesn’t seek a cease fire, peace, or tranquility, but cares little to none of its citizens and has made its only goal the annihilation of Israel. I believe Lt. Col. Peter Lerner (an IDF Spokesperson) stated it best: “While the IDF uses weapons to defend its civilians, the Hamas uses civilians to defend its weapons”. Our challenge here is Hamas, not the Palestinian people, but although we may shoot down their rockets, hit their launching pads, blockade Gaza’s port to prevent weapons entering, the threat from Hamas continues to be real and relevant. What more can be done?”

About the Author
Steven Aiello is the Director of Debate for Peace (, and a board member of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development NY. He has a BA in Economics, MA in Diplomacy and Conflict Studies, and MA in Islamic Studies. He teaches Model UN for schools throughout Israel. Among his other hats he serves as Regional Coordinator for Creating Friendships for Peace, and Dialogue Officer at Asfar. Steven has also served as Chief of the Middle East Desk Head for Wikistrat, interned for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the American Islamic Congress. His writing has been published in the NY Daily News, Jerusalem Post, Iran Human Rights Review; Berkley Center at Georgetown;, and the Center for Islamic Pluralism. He can be reached via email at