WNYT.com

Capital Region residents weigh in on Gaza violence

Posted at: 11/18/2012 11:21 PM
Updated at: 11/19/2012 12:07 AM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - It's not easy seeing the pictures; it's unsettling hearing details; and for some people, it's nauseating to witness, or even think about, the human tragedy that's unfolding in the Middle East.

"I have two children living in Tel Aviv where 800 rockets are terrorizing a million Israelis in southern Israel," Rodney Margolis, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, points out. "It's difficult, for me, not to take sides."

Margolis says, ultimately, he's on the side of peace.

"What we're witnessing is a human tragedy on both sides," he says, "Palestinians are human beings, Israelis are human beings and they're suffering."

Through a different set of eyes, there's a different spin on whose responsible for inflicting the pain and suffering.

"I think that the latest invasion by Israel against the Gaza Strip is a human rights violation and an act of war with U. S. weapons," opines Doug Bullock, an Albany County legislator, who helped organize a Palestinian solidarity rally in Albany four years when tensions were also running high in the Middle East.

Bullock says Palestinian missile launches aimed at Israel are justified.

"The Israelis have a blockade going against Gaza that has produced a humanitarian crisis in Gaza," Bullock says. "The amount of military power Israel has is enormous compared with almost nothing that is in Gaza right now, so there's no equivocation at all."

"The Palestinians have thousands of rockets most them supplied by Iran," Margolis points out, further suggesting that if the Palestinians can bring weapons into the Gaza Strip via a network of underground tunnels, they could also choose to bring in food, medicine, and other supplies.

Margolis also believes it's the Palestinians who are carrying out an immoral plan of warfare.

"They will place a rocket launcher in a mosque, next to a school, in a courtyard to an apartment complex, and dare Israelis to respond," he says.

That response may come from Israeli ground forces.

"Nobody wants that," Margolis believes, "That's going to lead to more destruction, more loss of life, more civilians being killed, and I can tell you, that's the last thing in the world Israel wants to do."

"The U.S. should pressure on Israel and not support this incursion into Gaza," Bullock counters. "If they support an incursion into Gaza, it'll be a humanitarian crisis and a threat of the war spreading all across the Middle East."

Margolis believes what's really needed in the Middle East is leadership. He ways there doesn't seem to be anyone on the "other side" who wants peace.

He also describes Palestinians as smart, industrious, highly educated people who need the opportunity to forget about war, and focus on peace. If that were to happen, he says, that area of the world would "blossom like a flower."