This week marked one of those rare occasions when my procrastination actually paid off. Instead of researching the complexities of the never-ending conflict between Israel and Palestine, I was reading a comic book Aquaman.
In this particular story a United States weapons test has gone awry and missiles have struck an unsuspecting Atlantean city, killing a handful of innocent civilians. Atlantis strikes back by flooding every major city on the East Coast, killing hundreds.
What does this have to do with Palestine and Israel? Hamas, a radical Palestinian group, launched missiles into Israel killing and injuring innocent civilians. Israel responded this past November with operation Pillar of Defense. After days of air strikes the operation claimed more than 160 Palestinians while the Hamas rocket attacks killed six Israelis. According to Abu Rhama of CNN, many of these were civilians.
In the pages of Aquaman we saw that Atlantis was hit first. They lost innocent lives and their people are angry. They have a right to defend themselves. But as Superman and the rest of the Justice League point out, the counterattack was twenty times worse than the original attack. These are two nations with equally valid reasons to wage war on one another.
As Superman and Batman debated the morality of Atlantis’ deadly counterattack, I realized that the fictional conversation between these super people perfectly encapsulates the very real and difficult moral questions behind Israel and Palestine’s conflict. Is Hamas to blame for the initial attacks or do we condemn Israel for their far more damaging retaliation? Should we be taking sides at all?
Innocent people suffer the consequences of conflicts they never asked for. We see it in these volatile Middle Eastern states, just as we see it in the pages of Aquaman.
But this conflict in the Middle East is not a comic book. There hasn’t been true and lasting peace in the region since 1967. In both countries, innocent people suffer every day. There is no Justice League, no band of super powered do-gooders in spandex to save innocent civilians from harm.
Conditions in these warring nations won’t improve until a viable plan for peace is agreed upon by both sides. And even then will the fighting stop? What will it take to dilute 40 plus years of bad blood between the Palestinian Authority and the Jewish nation of Israel?
In the pages of Aquaman we can safely assume that everything will work out for the best. Aquaman and the rest of the Justice League will leap into action, and a lasting peace with Atlantis will be achieved in the comic book equivalent of a few days. Here in the real world I suspect there will be no perfect conclusion where everyone can live happily ever after. It will take real people working on realistic solutions to resolve this. But after 40 years of violence, the citizens of Israel and Palestine can’t afford to stop taking those steps.
Zach Pearson can be contacted at