Israel, Palestine: The Illegitmacy of Violence

What do you think of, when you think of Israel?  Jerusalem?

Its a heavy question, for a Jew.  I think of many things, visions and words from my youth.  And a rich history that feels nearer than that of any other people on Earth.   I say this as a man who identifies as ethnically Jewish.  I left my religion behind long ago, slowly and deliberately.  But I still watch events in the Middle East with intense interest and disgust.  Those are my relatives butchering each other over land they think God promised them.  And I cannot stand the blindness with which the world views Israel/Palestine.  An eye is nailed shut to the violence on one side or the other, without regard for the facts.   So I try to keep both my eyes open, and I see blood stained hands each claiming the same gold standard: justification.  As if murderous actions are ever justified.

Given the intensity of the feeling over there, it is bound to become expressed in artistic form.  Hence yet another piece of art comparing the Israelis to nazis, and the Palestinians to the Jews.  But it isn’t the same.  Israel’s actions are deadly wrong, but they are not building giant camps and systematically killing all of the Palestinians.  It just isn’t happening.  And to claim it is sounds shrill and desperate.

But that desperation itself is understandable.  After all, Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians mirror with frightening accuracy the German’s actions that preceded the concentration camps:  The ghettos.  Jews were herded into ghettos first, kept in poverty and eventually moved onto the camps for efficient extermination.

However there are key differences that must be addressed.

That poverty of the Palestinians is a joint effort between Israel and the surrounding nations.  Israel wants to punish the Palestinians for the violence they have engaged in (and is fearful of money sent their way coming back in the form of rockets).  Neighbors want Israel destabilized, and would gladly suffer the Palestinian people poverty and see generations of desperate people keep their hated nemesis mired in internal conflict.  Don’t even get me started on my own country’s support for violence in the region  (Short story: Oy Vey).

The Palestinians plight lacks to abject desire to kill so obviously present with the Germans.  Palestinian men are not marched onto the street and shot.  Palestinian infants are not smashed against walls until their blood has stained the walls black.

The Palestinians kill innocents.  Children.  People who have no business being shot or blown up.  Dead.

I look at the Palestinian’s plight, and I want to root for them.  I want to express solidarity.  They are a people being oppressed by a government.  But how can I support a violent movement?  A movement that considers blood an acceptable price for land?  So I end up supporting neither side, and watching both sides commit murder with contempt.

In the meantime, I find hope in watching a new movement that appears to be gaining strength:  The movement for a single Secular Democratic State in Israel Palestine.  Ghada Karmi has a rundown here, and there is an indymedia story here.  My suggestion is they name themselves something hilarious.  One of the highest points of our shared culture is comedy, and the land of milk and honey needs to take itself a wee bit less seriously.


16 Responses

  1. The only government oppressing the Palestinian people is their own. When Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel and prior agreements, everyone will come to the table and be ready with financial support. But those are things Hamas was created to oppose.

    Israel has openly supported a two state solution, but Hamas has not. Israel talking with Hamas is like England talking to Hitler.

    There is no solution that is purely military. But there can be no negotiated solution until Hamas and its parent, Iran, are militarily defeated. Just like WWII. Once Hitler was defeated, real talks could begin.

  2. Equating Hamas with Hitler is a stretch, a long stretch of the the imagination. And the Israeli goverment has not been the best, putting up walls and expanding settlements while talking peace. The more they conduct collective punishments on the people of Gaza the more they will align themselves Hamas.

  3. Walls are an obstacle to violence, not peace. They were only created after years of suicide bombers.

    “Settlements” are only an obstacle to peace if you share the Arab apartheid vision of no Jews in “arab lands.” Arabs can live in Israel, but Jews can’t live in “Palestine?”

  4. And the suicide bombers where created after years of apartheid.

    As for the settlements, its one thing if you move in to my neighborhood, its another when you bulldoze my home and build over it and use your guns to keep me out. And then claim you have some kind of godly/biblical inspired right to screw me over.

  5. I have a question. Why can’t the rest of the Arab world create an Arab nation that would collectively nurture it’s own? I can concede that the Israelis and the Palestinians have deep seeded tensions that will take many years to reconcile (as it took many years to build the hostility) but why can’t the Saudis for instance, welcome their Palestinian Arab brothers to share peace, land and prosperity? (unlike the Mexico U.S. situation the Palestinians are seeing their country disappear). Why are the Palestinians treated like the red headed stepchild by the very people that would support their cause publicly and throw them under the bus when no one is looking? (Apologies in advance to all the red headed step children out there.)

    Either side of the Arab Israeli conflict, (as I was taught it was called years ago), has demands that they feel are not being met. The legitimacy of their demands are irrelevant to the outsider but are mortally important to the parties involved. So what has changed, since it was taught to us years ago that it is called the Arab Israeli conflict, to considered it just Palestine’s problem to the Arabs. The Arab nations seem to have turned a blind eye to their brothers problem due to what? Pressure form the U.S.?

    When Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated I felt sad in my heart because the appearance was the he was looking for peace and was killed by an Israeli that seemed to not want peace. It never made any sense. How could someone not want peace? But the deeper you look into these events the more conspiratorial you are portrayed as. As if it should be considered a bad thing when the governments actions and secrecy are questioned.

    Menachem Wolfovich Begin is the George Bush of the Israeli nation. To see how our country will end up is to look at his administration. History repeats itself. Begin fertilized and solidified hostile intent in the region in the not so distant past.

    Has it gotten so ignorant that Palestine and Israel have adopted the same attitude that the IRA and England (used to?) share. We’ve been fighting for so long why stop now?

    I just can’t help but think that when problems arise in these situations there are two desires that are not being met. There has to be an amicable resolution available doesn’t there? It can’t be endless war as an answer can it? There must be some requirements that can be met to give the sides what they want. It can’t be as ignorant as I kill you forever because you kill me equally can it? It’s depressing.

    I hold the media very responsible. I believe that if the media were to show the horrors of war consistently on the evening news during dinner then perhaps the idea of sterile warfare (out of site out of mind) would disappear. People wouldn’t accept politicians that have no reservations about being in a war for 100 years. The harsh realities of the death and destruction of neighborhoods and generations would shape politics. Not the media censoring the realities of a 500 lb bombs devastation in a small village.

    The innocent people are the ones that aren’t allowed to participate in the politics of the region. That covers quite a bit of the worlds populous at this point. Sad that this state of affairs gives us less distinction as civil beings and more validity to us being savages.

  6. Why should they? No really why? Should they build reservations for the Palestinians thus ensuring that Israeli aggression stands. Why should the Israeli goverment (or governments) be rewarded thus.

  7. I’m looking to help the Palestinians and hold the Arabs accountable Hopefully resulting in Israels acceptance of the right of Palestine to exist. In turn maybe bring less violence to the region. That’s my idea ralfast. I would put my brother up if he needed a place wouldn’t you?

    I offer an idea. What would your solution be? You haven’t offered one yet. You just perpetuate the problem by identifying known issues with no solutions.

  8. Michael D.: Isarel has already accepted the right of Palestine to exist. It is most of the arab world that refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist. That has been the core of the problem since 1947 and remains so.

    When Palestinians care more about establishing their own state than they do about destroying another, They will have it. But rather than have a state living alongside Israel, they would rather have none at all. That is what they have.

  9. “I would put my brother up if he needed a place wouldn’t you?”

    But would you tell him to stay around or get back his old place? The solution is there, the problem is that you have leaders on both sides who draw power from the conflict itself. As long as they can blame the other and play the victim they have power. Same thing happened in Northern Ireland. Both started as a combination of rage of unjust occupation and the need for social justice, but leaders on both side killed instead of listening and once the killing started in earnest, new leaders used it as an excuse to rise and maintain power.

    As for this:

    “When Palestinians…”

    Don’t confuse the leadership with the people. I made it clear that my beef is with the settlers and the Israeli goverment, not the Israeli people. There lies a great part of the problem.

    And most of the “Arab World” has accepted Israel right to exist, two prime examples are Egypt and Jordan. Syria talks big but they have nothing to back it up and the last neighbor, Lebanon is caught in the middle of the perennial “Great Powers” struggle so they don’t count.

  10. And no need to go into conspiracy theories Michael D, we all know who killed Rabin and why. The Likudist can’t claim they want peace after that.

  11. Rabin was murdered by a fringe extremist whose heinous crime did not represent any mainstream group in Israel.

    Many opposed Rabin and were proved right, as Oslo was merely a ruse to give Fatah tthe opprotunity to arm for the second intifada. His murder was a tragedy, but Rabin reflected the desperation of Israel for peace, so much of a desperation that they trusted a lying mass murderer like Arafat.

    Yes, Egypt and Jordan have formally accepted Israel, but the rest of the Arab world has not. Their pressure could help Palestinians find real leaders who can help them abandon their hope of destruction and replace it with hope of statehood – alongside Israel.

  12. ralfast: Are you agreeing with my assertion that there was more to Rabin’s assassination than meets the eye (how could anyone not want peace) or dismissing my argument that a conspiracy existed to further hatred and regional tensions? It’s not apparent to me by your comment so at the risk of seeming naive could you elaborate?

    Ed: You are repeating my intended point, what is your point?

  13. Michael D., my only point to you is that Israel already accepts the idea of a two state solution. You had previously stated that that still needs to happen.

  14. Sorry for the confusion Michael D:

    I agree that there more to it. Not at the level of a vast conspiracy, but that Rabin’s murder was convenient to elements of the far-Right in Israel, the true believers in Betz Israel. The man that did the killing came from that side of the street and the fact that he was allowed (in one of the more security conscious nations on Earth) to get so close to the Prime Minister and then the investigation was wrapped up so quickly speaks volumes to who benefited from it.

    In other words either someone knew and did nothing or they benefited from it. Remember those calls by Sharon a few years back, about Civil War? Israel is a deeply divided state, only the external threat of the faceless Arab hordes keeps the country together and the Right and Far Right in power.

    As for who doesn’t want peace? Only those that profit from war.

    BTW, how is old “Settlement King” Sharon doing these days? Are prosecutors still waiting for him to come back from the dead so they can prosecute his carcass?

    First, you forget that the PLO was not behind the First Intifada, a movement that actually worked for the Palestinians. Every rock throwing teenager gun down by IDF troopers became a symbol of resistance.

    And both sides benefited (temporally at least), remember that no party can truly rule the Knesset by themselves, and Likud has always relied on galvanizing the more radical religious parties with talk of crushing Israels enemies.

    As for the Arab states that have not signed up, who is in fact poised to strike at Israel? Saudi Arabia is more of an ally behind the scenes than any other state in the region (if by ally you mean playing the Western/jihadist two-step). Lebanon is not a threat (it is in fact threatened by Israel and everyone else) nor is Syria (73 and 82 proved that without a doubt) so where is this Arab world you speak off, Libya, the Gulf States, who?

    As for the two state solution not true. On paper Israel does, but only under pressure from the U.S. and the EU and the settlements continue to expand in the West Bank so the reality does not match the rhetoric.

  15. Ed, respectfully, exactly where does it indicate that I ” had previously stated that that still needs to happen.” regarding the “Israel already accepts the idea of a two state solution.”?

    ralfast, no need for an apology but thank you. I was trying to understand if I was being called a crazy. I’m used to it by now of course but sometimes I am unaware of whether the charge is being made or simple sarcasm is eluding me. As to your assessment of the situation and talking points on the subject, I say very astute of you.

    This though:
    “BTW, how is old “Settlement King” Sharon doing these days? Are prosecutors still waiting for him to come back from the dead so they can prosecute his carcass?”
    That is priceless. :-).
    Nice transition into bringing Dan’s comedic desire to fruition. I appreciate that brand of humor.

  16. […] My friends and family are very much split when it comes to Israel/Palestine.  Nearly a year ago I examined my own feelings and observations on the mess.  Its nearly impossible to really get a handle on a reality most of us don’t have to […]

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