Saturday, January 03, 2009

Israel and Palestine - a tale of two tragedies

Imagine you live in, say, San Diego. Imagine that, because of our criminal incursion into Iraq, the rest of the world decided to punish us and help Israel by forcing Americans out of San Diego and allowing Israelis to move there. San Diego is one of the bastions of right wing sentiment, and I can only imagine that such a move would breed a much more virulent antisemitism where only a relatively minor amount existed previously.

Imagine now that the Israelis, settled in San Diego, decided to expand their territory. After all, they were surrounded by people who hated them, who wanted America back, intact. Who were throwing rocks at them, and, eventually, bombs.

Would the liberals of America sit back and let Israel expand their territory in the name of protection? I sure wouldn't. It was an awful thing to force one people to move aside for another, regardless of the horrific circumstances that mandated it. The world failed the Jews for most of WWII. America turned a blind eye to the concentration camps until Pearl Harbor forced our entry into the war. We have Israeli blood on our hands.

But we would never tolerate the American Indians forcibly expanding their reservations because they fear losing their culture. We would never tolerate a settlement of Israels taking over San Diego, and then expanding it! Yet we blindly support Israel now, because no one wants to be accused of being antisemitic. Or, really, no politician wants to reject the Jewish teat flowing with the mother's milk of politics - money.

We're always told Hamas's actions are acts of aggression, and Israel's acts of acts of self defense. But Palestine is not infringing on Israeli territory! It's the other way around!

I deplore both sides for using violence to achieve their means. But when the world refuses to make Israel sit down and negotiate with its enemies, we are all to blame.

Israel was created through abominable circumstances. And we're kidding ourselves if we think the primary reason Israel was created at all was to help the Jews. It was to give the Americans and British empire builders a foothold in the oil-rich Middle East. That's the real reason we support Israel. We need to be able to land at and launch actions from their shores. We're using them too.

I've been trying to understand why people, over the centuries, hated the Jews. And that's a subject for another post. There is, at least, an explanation, but not a justification. I certainly don't hate any Jews! And the only generalization I'm going to make is that the few Jews I got to know well all seemed to have a highly developed sense of humor, were talented artistically, and were very compassionate towards others. Are all Jews like that? That's a silly question - because no population is homogenous on any level! I'm just saying the Jews I've met have been an extraordinarily talented and wonderful bunch. And when I've broached this topic with some of them, they've agreed that Israel has gotten out of bounds.

I honestly think the Middle East will always be at war until the Jews themselves force Israel to back off and play nice with its neighbors. While Arab state leaders like to spew anti-Israeli sentiment, the Arabs I've met here in America have no problem with Israel existing, so long as it respects its internationally agreed-to borders.

And for those who say that's impossible, that the population of Israel is growing and has to go somewhere, think of what that means for the rest of the planet, and borders everywhere. We've really got a challenge for us - how to live with each other on a planet holding more people than it can easily support. We're certainly not going to survive, this little human race, until we realize we are all equally deserving of the resources here and learn to play fairly with others.

I'm running out of time, and meant to make this an intro to this great article, far more articulate than myself on this matter, by Wallace Shawn in The Nation. Please read it, and circulate it. Israel needs an honest friend, the kind that tells you when you've overstepped. America needs to be that friend now, before the Israelis put their citizens in further danger.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for this. Maybe it isn't what you were hoping to post, but it is good and valuable.

One comment for "those who say that's impossible, that the population of Israel is growing and has to go somewhere:

They are operating on incorrect information. The illegal colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (and the Golan Heights) have never been about a need to absorb an overflowing population, and still are not. In fact, the exact opposite is the reality. The need for a high rate of immigration has historically been at least partly about populating the colonies.

Israeli officials have been alarmed at the poor growth of Israel's Jewish population. Immigration, particularly of more "desirable" American and Western European Jews is way down, and they are desperate for ways to increase it. It seems that the younger generations of U.S. and Western European Jews have little interest in Israel, and less interest in immigrating there. There are all kinds of recruiting programs to persuade young American Jews to immigrate, including a free, all expenses paid, and very controlled "heritage tours" to Israel. At least some of them are a lot like those free trips offered by people selling time shares, and often very high pressure, complete with guilt trips and other tactics.

You might have seen my comment on BooMan about the group of Peruvian "Jews" they found and brought to Israel to help populate one of the illegal colonies in the West Bank. Those people had all the appearance of being indigenous Peruvian Indians living in a remote village in the mountains. It is difficult to piece together the whole history, and I am more than a bit skeptical about the official story, but supposedly they had been practicing Judaism for ten years, and wanted to immigrate to Israel. They had to go through a full Orthodox conversion process, and are now living in the illegal West Bank colony of Alon Shvut. The alternative story I heard was that they were tired of living in poverty isolated in the remote mountains, found out about the very attractive immigration packages Israel is using to try to induce Jews to go there, thought it sounded like a good deal, decided to become Jews. That one sounds more plausible, but either way, I hope they really are better of than they were in Peru, and I hope that Israel will take good care of them and not just use them as "human material" as they have so many other "Jews of colour" whom they have recruited, placed in key strategic locations, and wished good luck.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are an amazing person! intelligent, honest and truly human! let's all continue to spread the words about what is going on in Israel and who are the real victims! Too much propoganda, too much uncovered.

2:29 PM  

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