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July 9, 2014

Locals reflect on situation in Israel and Gaza

As tensions continue to build in Israel and Gaza, four local residents from the two major religions in that area offered their thoughts on the situation on Tuesday.

In response to rockets fired from Gaza, Israeli warplanes on Tuesday bombed targets in that area. Israel has authorized the call up of 40,000 army reservists for possible military action. In addition, three Israeli teens were kidnapped in June and murdered in an act that Palestinians are suspected of. Last week, a Palestinian teen was kidnapped and murdered in what officials said could be an act of revenge. Israel arrested six Jewish residents for the crime.

State University of New York at Oneonta history professor William Simons is a member of Temple Beth-El and his scholarship deals with Jewish ethnicity through teaching, writing and public speaking. He was upset by the acts committed against the teens on both sides.

“Israelis might be living alongside people who deny their right to exist,” he said. However, “such revenge cannot be permitted.”

He has visited the county twice over the years and said Israel has “a right and an obligation to defend itself. It’s long past time for a just and lasting peace but current events are ominous.”

He did not want to predict how the situation would resolve.

Temple Beth-El Rabbi Donald Roberts said he has “no qualms” about Israel taking whatever action is necessary to defend itself. Having been there many times he knows “it’s very vulnerable,” surrounded by many countries that want to destroy it.

“It’s a battle that has been going on for a long time,” he said.

SUNY Oneonta sociology professor Fida Mohammad is Muslim. He is originally from Pakistan.

“The current situation is tragic,” he said. “I condemn the killing of innocent people on both sides.”

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