Every day I open the Tribune and the news from Israel and the occupied territories is more alarming. Friday's suicide bombing and Israeli jet attack were no exception. The question that must be on the top of everyone's mind, especially those of American citizens given our government's overwhelming military and political support of Israel, is how to stop the violence.
President Bush calls appropriately for an "end to the cycle of violence", but to do that we must understand the roots of the violence. For the past 34 years, Israel has militarily (and illegally, according to all international law) occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. During that time, it has moved over 200,000 Jewish settlers into this territory, exploited Palestinian workers and natural resources, such as all-important water, and used harsh military measures to suppress all forms of dissent.
Since October 2000 alone, Israel has killed 500 Palestinians, injured 15,000 more, destroyed 600 homes and uprooted tens of thousands of income-generated trees. There is no doubt that Palestinians have also attacked Israelis; all attacks on unarmed civilians must be condemned and stopped. But Israel has the fifth most powerful military force in the world; its disproportionate responses to relatively isolated attacks on Israelis only fuels the violence and deepens the hatreds.
The only way to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, is to end Israel's occupation. The only way that will happen is if the United States tells Israel that its annual $3 billion in aid will be jeopardized unless Israel ends its illegal settlements, end its use of US weapons to attack civilians and stop using collective punishment against Palestinians. Then and only then is there a chance that we will see an end to this awful bloodshed.