Peace for Israelis and Palestinians

Supporting programs aimed at improving Israel-Palestine relations

The author—a Chico State professor in the Department of Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management—recently released his latest book, Israeli Life and Leisure in the 21st Century, co-written by wife Sara Leitne.

I am pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. I work with organizations, such as Mifalot and the Peres Center for Peace, that aim to improve relations between Israelis and Palestinians through sports programs involving thousands of youth. My research findings over the last three years show that the programs are succeeding. I was working on these peace-building efforts in Israel this summer throughout the war in which Hamas in Gaza fired nearly 5,000 missiles and rockets into Israel.

The civilians Hamas targeted this summer included me, my family and close friends. They fired their missiles at us in Tel Aviv from Gaza, which is less than 50 miles away. Several times a day, the “red alert” sirens sounded and we ran for cover, waiting to hear the boom of the Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepting the incoming missiles.

Imagine if U.S. support of Israel was curtailed, and Israel no longer had the Iron Dome and that Gaza had open borders so that more and bigger missiles could enter Gaza and there was more cement and other materials available for the construction of attack tunnels. The result would be millions of Israeli casualties. Thousands of missiles and rockets would strike everywhere in Israel, and terrorists would emerge from attack tunnels in Israeli territory to commit mass murder and kidnappings. These are the plans of Hamas that were foiled this summer.

However, what was not foiled this summer were the crimes that Hamas committed against its own people. Hamas executed numerous Palestinians on suspicion of collaboration with Israel; sacrificed approximately 200 of their own children’s lives to build the attack tunnels; and fired rockets from schools, mosques and homes.

Members of Hamas diverted vast resources that could have been used for the benefit of their people and instead used them for the purchase of missiles and rockets and the construction of the vast network of attack tunnels. These military actions were not aimed at “ending the occupation.” Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and there is not one Israeli living in Gaza nor one soldier stationed in Gaza since the summer of 2005. As stated in its charter, Hamas’ goal is the elimination of Israel.

Chicoans can help both the Palestinians and the Israelis by speaking out loud and clear against terrorist organizations such as Hamas and by supporting efforts to improve relations between Israelis and Palestinians.