Editor, Daily Nexus,

“The United States Has a Friend in the Middle East” (Daily Nexus, May 6, 2003), by Celia Soudry, paints an incomplete picture of a very complex situation. Israel is not the benevolent champion protecting the free world from terrorists that Soudry paints it to be. Israel, like any other state, does what is in its best interest. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can claim innocence. Both sides have devoted the lives of their people and the heritage of their children to killing each other. The world has watched and perpetuated the violence by providing ammunition, whether in the form of capital or hardware.

Israel may have been created from the ashes of the Holocaust, but for Palestinians, what rose from these ashes resulted in their displacement. They saw their homeland divided and given away. To Soudry, Israel may represent a democratic paradise, but for the people who were displaced and whose homes were demolished by Israeli tanks this may not be the case.

It is hard to believe that people blow themselves up just to kill innocents. They usually believe in some higher cause – perhaps liberation. These people probably feel that they have truly run out of options. This by no means makes what they do right, but can you imagine what it is like to feel that that the only way to save the future is to sacrifice your life? What one person perceives as a terrorist another may call a soldier.

This wasn’t written to be pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli. The point was to illustrate the fact that there are two sides to every story. Palestinians have suffered just as the Israelis have and both sides have committed horrific atrocities against each other. If we cannot understand this fact then peace is further away than we thought. When people use propaganda and scare tactics to coax us into supporting this or that side as Soudry has, it usually only perpetuates the problem. The U.S. needs to re-evaluate its foreign policy and make decisions not based on fear or as reactions to others; rather, it should reconcile its short-term and long-term interests with balanced deliberation. Feelings and beliefs are beautiful things but they can sometimes fog our perceptions of reality. Protecting the “free world” and protecting Israel are two different things. Soudry should take a step back and look at the whole picture. I’ve tried and it’s still hard to see through the cloud of hate and despair.