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 confront on a daily basis. I remember my own understanding of the issue took a turn for the deeper after reading what it was like for children to see their parents treated like criminals, never mind treated brutally, at Israeli checkpoints. So I’d like to invite you to join me in a very short thought experiment. I’d like to briefly examine an aspect of both sides of this conflict.
First the Israelis. Let’s imagine that the party to take power in Canada is a mix of social conservatism and fiscal liberalism. Thet build schools, hospitals, and provide jobs. The Canadians are wild about them. They also commit violent acts against US citizens. They send suicide bombers who travel down into Boston, New York, Chicago, and blow themselves up in buses, night clubs and crowded intersections. They launch rockets into the US, hitting farms, schools, and random houses. People you know have been killed in these attacks. The Canadian government not only supports this party, they have threatened to bury us if we retaliate. How would you want to react? How do you think our government should react?
Let’s scale this down for the Palestinians. Imagine your home state is divided in half. The bulk of the land is owned by by Mexicans. To travel from one end to another, we have to submit ourselves to military checkpoints, were we can be beaten or detained at will. Most of us live in poverty. The local party to gain power promises not only to fight back, but to ensure our broken infrastructure is repaired. Members of the party regularly fire rockets into Mexico’s borders. The Mexican government responds with overwhelming force, killing not only the men firing rockets, but nearby civilians. Your friends have been killed. After a failed attempt to negotiate a cease fire, Mexico is going to invade our home. Given the inability of their military force to spare civilians, it is likely that even if you are not killed or wounded, someone you know will be. How would you respond? How would you expect your elected officials to act?
The interesting thing with the Israel/Palestine conflict is that both sides, upon reflection, inspire sympathy. Something to keep in mind when reading the many one sided notes and articles from friends and media.