MSA Student reacts to tension, hostilities in Gaza
Published: Friday, December 7, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
Aysha Mansour is a first-year pharmacy student and a member of the Muslim Students Association (MSA). She was born in Knoxville, Tenn. and then moved to Mystic, Conn. She is also a Palestinian American.
In the past few weeks, the world has once again turned its focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tensions are not new. Israel and Gaza have been trading airstrikes and rocket fire for months. The attacks stem partly from growing frustration in Gaza over economic hardships, intensified by the blockade imposed by Israel in an attempt to squeeze out Hamas, the Palestinian political party.
Mansour’s family is among several at UConn who have been directly affected by these attacks. Mansour’s parents both came from Palestine. Her mother from Ramallah, which is now in the West Bank of present day Israel. Her father from Gaza.
This past summer Mansour visited her family in Gaza for two months. She felt and observed the violence first-hand.
“I couldn’t handle the occasional airstrikes that shook the whole neighborhood,” Mansour said.
She believes that Palestinians are resisting the occupation of their lands and therefore do not recognize Israel as a legitimate country.
“This is the stem of the entire Middle East conflict,” she said.
On May 14, 1948, the United Nations officially declared Israel a country. This was done in response to Jewish genocide in the Holocaust. Much controversy, debate and violence has occurred since Israel’s creation.
“[Palestinians] are simply resisting against those that are occupying their lands, very much like the Native Americans resisted the Europeans who tried to take their lands,” Mansour said.
Mansour believes that after the aims of the Zionist movement were achieved, Israelis became the aggressors of the Palestinian people.
The Jews wanted to declare Palestine as their homeland and “invaded Palestinian lands by force, whether it was by killing them or imprisonment,” Mansour said.
“Right now, Israel has control of Jerusalem and limits Palestinian access,” Mansour said.
She believes there should be shared control, “since it is the holy land for all Jews, Christians and Muslims.”
In regards to Israel being recognized as a legitimate country, Mansour explained that she and most Palestinians do not recognize Israel as legitimate and see Israel as “an occupied Palestinian territory.”
She also said that the United States has played a big role in controlling Palestine by spending billions of dollars every year for Israel’s defense fund.
Despite the ever-growing conflict and violence in Gaza, Mansour is hopeful that peace will come one day.
“The only way I feel peace will ever be reached is if Israel abolishes their notion of a Jewish State and gives every person living in the region equal rights, whether they are Muslim [or] Christian Palestinians or Israelis Jews, just like any other legitimate country in the world does,” Mansour said.