In his recent article, Dov Lipman invoked American values and warned us of "hypocrisy" if we don't support "Israel's right to defend itself." But he forgot our core value: freedom.
The very foundation of Mr. Lipman's hypothetical scenario, requiring us to imagine if, "Al Qaeda builds cells in Mexico and takes control of the Coahuila region which borders Texas" is disingenuous. In reality, it's the Palestinians who are fighting for their freedom from an ever-expanding occupation.
A better alternative is to think of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” which shows the quest for freedom of an innocent banker serving two life sentences under hopeless circumstances. The cast goes like this: The criminals are Hamas, the warden is Netanyahu, Andy -- the banker convicted of murder -- is your average Palestinian, and Shawshank is Gaza.
Saying this makes me neither an anti-Semite nor pro-Hamas. I believe in Israel's right to exist and wish for its citizens to thrive. Similarly, I don't condone the firing of rockets or the digging of tunnels intended to harm civilians.
But lately, the Palestinian's moral right to exist has become a political wrong to list.
Recently, it has become evident that millions of innocent Palestinians will serve life sentences in this Shawshank, that there is no two-state solution, that their yearning for freedom is being swallowed by the biblical dream of a Greater Israel, stretching all the way from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.
Let's go back to April 23, 2014, when Fatah and Hamas -- the two major Palestinian political parties -- announced a unity government based almost entirely upon the terms of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Not only that such a move would practically have dissolved Hamas and its infamous charter of "destruction to Israel," it would also have provided Israel the long-awaited "partner on the other side." Conditions of non-violence and recognition of Israel were agreed upon. But Netanyahu thwarted it by refusing to ease the border closures.
His reasons became public on July 13, when the Times of Israel reported him as saying, "there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” No surprise, 28 out of 68 members of his government reject the two-state solution entirely while others may “accept it with reservations.”
This policy shift locked the nearly 1.8 million residents of Gaza in a Shawshank, making them desperate for redemption. According to the UNRWA office in Rafah, “Seventy percent of Gazans are women and children. Eighty percent of Gazans live below the poverty line." Facing blackouts that can last between 12 and 16 hours and wading through garbage-soaked streets, Gazans are blocked at the checkpoints and bombed at whim. Despite an original agreement to be able to fish up to 20 nautical miles, Israelis restricts the fishermen to 3 nautical miles. Unemployment stands at a whopping 40 percent. Israel controls the food, medicine, personnel and even concrete going into Gaza.
Now let's ask those Americans who stood and cheered for the freedom of one innocent man in “Shawshank Redemption”: What would WE do if millions of us were put in the hopeless cells of Shawshank? What would WE do if more than 150,000 of our people (proportionate to the Gazans killed in this war) were killed with impunity? What would WE do if the existence of our homes was at the mercy of a text message from a fighter jet?
We would, of course, respond with the strongest force possible.
Having gone from being homeless to hopeless, the Palestinians stand no chance militarily. People of Gaza -- even many of the 50 percent who are under the age of 18 -- feel there are only two ways out of this Shawshank: fire rockets and dig tunnels (what Hamas has chosen) or mobilize international sympathy through social media (what the innocent civilians are choosing).
I strongly reject Hamas' choice.
Mr. Lipman's recipe to support Israel's cruelty with an intent to end the rocket attacks would only allow Hamas to recruit more hopeless youth, willing to dig more terror tunnels. Remember, the boys throwing rocks at Israel during the first Intifada of 1987 are the men shooting rockets into her today. America should pressure Israel to agree to an immediate cease-fire, followed by sincere efforts to broker a two-state solution.
Torture and humiliation didn't kill Andy's hope, it fueled it. The only way to kill Hamas motivation for digging the next tunnel or firing the next rocket is by giving the innocent civilians of Palestine the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Touting freedom as our core value but denying it to the Palestinians would, in fact, be the real height of hypocrisy.
Faheem Younus is the Baltimore president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and a senior fellow at the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics at the University of Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter @FaheemYounus.