The matters of the war in the Middle East are complicated; there are no simple answers.

For instance, I just learned that there are guidelines for waging a “just war”: militarily necessary, proportional (number of casualties), distinguishes between combatants and non-combatants. If there is a magic number for casualties, the toll in Gaza seems to have surpassed what is acceptable, beyond the “just war” standard.

The following words are being freely bandied about to describe the above event: (illegal) occupation, genocide, open-air prison, oppressor, terrorists, Zionists, inhumane, crimes against humanity, barbarism, slaughter (of innocents), “right” to defend itself, etc.

Albeit through cloudy lenses, every side has a POV.

Against the tide of the world’s outcry for a cease fire and humanitarian corridors, Netanyahu reminded the

Israelis about an Old Testament passage from three thousand years ago: I Samuel 15, 1-9 which directed Saul, king of the Hebrews, to slaughter the Amalekites (forefathers of the Arabs) who had ambushed the Israelites coming out of Egypt. Saul was directed to kill all the Amalekite men, women, babies, ox, sheep, and assesto leave no prisoners.

Unholy warfare! Now both sides are using scripture from two major traditions to justify unnecessary slaughter. I am anguished by broadcast and print news from the daily headlines and images from CNN, FOX, BBC, and Aljazeera. Equal grievances get filtered through. Evidence of biases abound, and they are all right!

Moved by the sight of maimed children and the nightly barrage of bombs busting in the background, it is no wonder that we are emotionally distraught; left in turmoil.

Yes, there are terrorists.

Yes, there are humanists.

Yes, every sovereign state has a right to defend itself.

Yes, there are rogue states.

Yes, there are people without a homeland (in the Middle East, in Africa, in east Asia, to name a few) Yes, every human being deserves the right to live in peace.

Yes, innocents are killed in war.

Yes, you can be pro-Palestinian (the people) and anti-Hamas (the political party).

Yes, you can support Jewish people and be anti-Israel (the state).

Yes, there is historical precedent over territorial conflicts. The USA itself has still not completely fulfilled its treaties with native Americans, nor has it paid fair reparations to former chattel slaves.

Yes, there is an argument to support every position.

Question: Can humans reach an everlasting peace on earth- good will toward our fellows?

Answer (in the form of a question): Has there ever been such a time?

One lingering question is why do we prop up Israel? What are the US interests in the Middle East?

(One historical account starts in 1776. The US needed safe passageway around the mediterranean sea to continue and grow our trade and commerce. We had lost protection from Britain since our declaration of independence, so we developed a relationship with the ruling Ottomans and paid bribes to the North African pirates to protect our ships, until we went to war with the Barbary pirates, who, amongst other deeds, took white prisoners as slaves, a most egregious sin. See The Barbary Wars of 18011805, 1815-1816).

It was in our economic self-interest then, and I contend that subsequent US policies have evolved with unbroken devotion to our bottom-line approach to the Middle East.

To me it’s simple. The US support for Israel is based on its strategic location in the area that affords access to further economic gains for the US. It makes sense that we would pay for an iron dome to protect our stop-gap ally on the front line of our economic interests: Middle eastern oil.

Israel is our front line of defense in the Middle East. What else is there that keeps our military bases throughout the area, guides our foreign policies, empties our international coffers, and riles up the populace?

We are simultaneously benefiting from our economic pursuits while pushing back the tide of avowed threats to US culture and democratic ideals. Not much has changed in nearly three hundred years but the weaponry.

I’m not fooled by arguments about shared democratic ideals, nor how Judeo-Christian ethos guide our policies in Israel.

No, it’s the economy. Then, now, and forever more.

Remember the war between the states, 1861-1866, arguably over the rights of southern states to hold chattel slaves for free labor-an economic issue. The North embargoed the South’s export of cotton and thereby crippled the confederacy’s economic independence. That there was blood spilled, more than 600,000 died, was a tragedy of ancient warfare. Once the Civil War was won by the North, our cotton-enriched economy began to thrive again. The economy.

We have a critical election coming up soon. The President of the US plays a critical role in shaping our foreign policy. Will you vote your pocketbook, your conscious, your rational conclusions?

There is a wide selection of information. Seek out answers to your unasked questions, in privacy, and without fear.

And for goodness’ sake, vote. Vote. Vote.