The continuing conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated in the past weeks to a state of dramatic violence. A cease-fire was ultimately brokered, but any lasting resolution of the conflict has yet to take effect.
Tensions surrounding the violence are also felt on campus through student protests, with the latest rallies on Nov. 19 calling for peace on both sides.
While U.S. students can spread the word about the need for peace in this region, Eric Davis, former director of the University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said the country itself could do more in terms of foreign policy in this region.
Although demonstrations do not take steps to mend the complex issue in Israel, Davis said they are crucial for raising awareness.
"You can't have a flourishing democracy if you don't participate," said Davis, professor in the Department of Political Science. "[The rallies] draw the attention of a lot of students at Rutgers who might not otherwise know what issues exist."
He said the recent weeklong period of violence, escalated by Israel's assassination of the chief of Hamas' armed wing, Ahmed Jabari, is just one instigator of the many separate incidents that are fueling the conflict.
"Part of the problem is that Hamas isn't directing all of the rockets. There are extremist groups like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad," he said. "There is also an internal struggle going on within Hamas — between the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the founder of Hamas."
Davis said Israel has yet to focus on the more constructive reply to the conflict — the creation of a two-state solution. All of the back-and-forth violence simply perpetuates and amplifies an issue that needs to be fixed through communication, he said.
"This action-reaction cycle is a futile trajectory — a lose-lose situation," said Samuel Peleg, visiting instructor in the Department of Political Science. "There are no winners here. It is detrimental for both sides. I think the next step must be direct talks between Israel and Hamas."
Davis said he also sees the need for more direct communication.
"I think that [the violence of all involved parties] is ultimately self-defeating," he said. "What Israel should really be doing is negotiating."
But Davis said there are potential flaws to a two-state solution. For instance, there cannot be Israeli settlements in the West Bank if it becomes a strictly Palestinian territory, he said.
The solution then is to trade settlements — a process that has already begun — and share Jerusalem as a capital, which is something politicians appear open to doing, Davis said.
If such a two-state solution were executed, radical groups would be isolated, he said.
"It seems — to me — that's the way to go," Davis said. "On one level it seems complicated. But, on another, it's really simple."
Countries located near the region could potentially impact the conflict, he said.
Some people speculate as to whether Egypt, because of its Muslim background, would become involved in the conflict — but this is unlikely, he said.
"Egypt's economy is tanking, and they get a lot of money from the United States and European Union," Davis said.
Although the president of Egypt does not wish to anger radical groups, he knows the Egyptian people do not want a government that reflects an Iranian theocracy driven by extremist ideologies, Davis said.
Another noteworthy member of this conflict is Iran, who supplied Hamas with Fajr-5 rockets, Davis said.
"Iran is using the Hamas people as a pawn. ... The Iranian government could care less about the Palestinian people," he said. "It's all a game."
He said Iran is trying to present itself as some great revolutionary power, using anti-American, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist rhetoric.
Despite such radical ideology and the fact that Iran provided Hamas with weapons, it is unlikely Iran would exert more direct involvement in the Israeli-Hamas conflict, he said. The key is that Iran is attempting to portray itself as powerful without risking national security, he said.
"Iran would never attack Israel with nuclear weapons," Davis said.
He also said the Iranian populous is often misrepresented as sharing the same extremist values as its leaders, which is an absolute fallacy.
The recent violence has registered with students on campus. On Nov. 19, Rutgers Hillel, Chabad, and Christians United For Israel rallied on the steps of Brower Commons to publicly support Israel and, above all, promote peace. Later in the evening, Students for Justice in Palestine held a rally to protest the Israeli air strikes in Gaza.
The University's chapter of Shalom/Salaam advocates for peace through its recent project, the "Patchwork for Peace."
Alina Rashid, programing chair of Shalom/Salaam, said the group hopes to send a patchwork tapestry to the United Nations to raise awareness about the need to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine so peace can exist.
"Our goal is to encourage everyone to get along and bridge the gaps," said Rashid, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.