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Sharlee Mullins Glenn: Aid to Israel should be contingent upon de-escalation of violence

We aren’t completely powerless in this situation.

(Ariel Schalit | The Associated Press) Israeli tanks head towards the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel on Friday, Oct.13, 2023.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex and enduring. The territorial tensions and deep grievances extend back at least a century, while the root hostilities stretch back to biblical times.

There is no justification for the recent and horrific terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel. Still, no matter how indefensible this aggression, cutting off all supplies, including electricity, food, water and medicine to Gaza, where nearly half the population consists of children under the age of 18, is not the answer. Nor is forcing the already traumatized families in the northern Gaza strip — over 1 million people — to evacuate to the south of the tiny overcrowded and overextended besieged region. The United Nations and a number of humanitarian and human rights groups warned that such an evacuation would be calamitous. Indeed, the situation has already become a full-blown humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by Tuesday’s strike on a hospital in Gaza that left at least 500 dead.

My heart breaks for the suffering innocents on both sides of this tragedy.

[Read more: Utahns share their perspectives on what’s happening in Israel and Palestine]

As we’ve all been taught since we were old enough to smack our brother when he grabbed our toy, two wrongs don’t make a right. Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon all humankind to “see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil ...”

We can argue endlessly about who is most at fault in this time-worn conflict, but what does that matter when hundreds of children on both sides are dead, and millions more are living in terror?

So, what can be done? As Fadi Abu Shammalah wrote last Thursday in the New York Times: “Unless the international community [particularly, the United States] intervenes, Israel can continue to cut off access to water, food, fuel, electricity, medications and every other necessity of life.”

How can we, as ordinary U.S. citizens, use our influence to insist that the horror in the Holy Land not be amplified by depriving innocent women and children of the basic necessities for survival? We aren’t completely powerless in this situation. We can start right now by contacting our respective members of Congress. First, we must demand that our Representatives in the House come together immediately to select a competent, rule of law-respecting Speaker. The work of legislating, which we elected them to do, cannot be disrupted during this critical time for both our own nation and fellow nations in crisis who need our help. Then we must ask both our Senators and our Representatives to be mindful of the innocents on both sides of the situation in Israel/Gaza and to ensure that any aid given be contingent upon the de-escalation of violence and the humane treatment of civilians.

Theodore Roosevelt famously said: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Please, please, do not do nothing. Join with me in pleading for the safety and care of these innocents.

Sharlee Mullins Glenn

Sharlee Mullins Glenn is an author, advocate and community organizer. She sits on the external advisory board of Brigham Young University’s Office of Civic Engagement and volunteers with a number of humanitarian organizations. The views expressed here are her own.

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