Eight years ago, in the full heat of 9/11’s aftermath, I started a pro-Palestinian thread. The arguments were great, albeit emotional, but what was missing was the element of hope. Naturally; it was just after 9/11.
These days, things seem to be much calmer, both here and in Israel/Palestine, so I think this may be a good time for cooler heads to revive the issue. The issue is no less urgent and no less deserving of a fair and permanent solution simply because there’s less killing going on now.
Firstly: “pro-Palestinian” does not, not, NOT mean “anti-Israeli.” In my logic, it is impossible for a truly “pro-people” position to be interpreted as “anti-some-other-people.” If you support human rights for all, you can’t be either anti-Palestinian or anti-Israeli.
“OK, smart guy, if you’re pro-people and pro-human rights, why didn’t you title your thread pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli thread?”
To draw attention to the asymmetrical injustice that is going on. Palestinians have suffered more and been displaced, wounded, humiliated and killed more than Israelis. Most Israelis live in relative comfort and security; most Palestinians do not; and the one may be a contributing factor to the other. (I’m talking principally about the settlements and the military protection, exclusive access roads, and often stolen land and water resources that each settlement requires.)
You often hear careless or emotional arguments which quickly become racist. It seems that Palestinians are among the last people in the world against whom you can be racist without fear of censure or ostracism. But the inconvenient fact remains that they are human beings, and all humans have the right to live in viable communities, to practice self-determination, to practice their language, religion and cultural heritage, and to “pursue happiness” by utilizing their economic resources – specifically by farming, digging wells, building new homes, starting new industry, getting an education, and being able to freely move from one part of their community to another – etc., etc., etc.
Sure – the Palestinians have had bad leaders, they have not received sufficient support from other Muslims and Arabs, and some individuals among them have done terrible things – all of which does not negate the entire community’s basic human and civil rights! And yes, they have collectively made bad decisions in the voting booth – what democratic people hasn’t? – but they are collectively still deserving of the respect and dignity due to every human being! In fact, the strife and bad decisions are never going to end until they get that respect and dignity. The best security is respecting others.
Palestinians have been oppressed and they have the right to struggle ethically for their rights. So did the Irish and the South Africans. Some Irish and South Africans committed atrocities in pursuit of that goal, but that did not take away the legitimacy of their cause overall. And what about America? Were no heinous acts ever committed by Americans in the name of America’s ideology of liberty and justice for all?
And of course Israelis have all the rights enumerated above, same as everybody else. Israel has the right to exist, and Israelis have the right to live in peace and security. But they are very unlikely to get any permanent security by oppressing others.
I believe most Israelis are basically good people with a social conscience, but too many of them have learned to selectively turn off that social conscience when it comes to Palestinians, preferring comfortable apathy and an unquestioning attitude towards government. I regard Uri Avnery and the Peace Now folks as heroes taking a moral stand.
For centuries, the Jewish people were the conscience of the world. Jews were always in the forefront when it came to labor organizing, reform movements and social consciousness, and they still are – except when it comes to Israel. (This is a sweeping statement, which, like every such statement, can become inaccurate under many circumstances. The statement refers to mainstream Jewish institutions and spokesmen such as AIPAC and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, but there are many American and Israeli Jews who have not turned off their consciences where Palestinians are concerned. In Los Angeles, the principal advocates for Palestinian rights are mainly Jewish.)
Now here’s the part where both Israelis and Palestinians may become angry with me: I think the possibility of a one-state solution should be explored. A multi-ethnic, multi-creed secular democracy which does not favor or oppress anyone based on ethnicity or religion. Now, this may turn out to be totally unworkable – it may be the worst idea ever – but I think the idea should at least be seriously talked about.
What’s your solution to the situation? I trust the SDMB community to use its creativity and reasoning power to come up with something that is humane, fair and permanent. The only unacceptable responses as far as I’m concerned would be:
-“Drive the Jews back into the sea.”
-“Expel the Palestinians.”
-“Nothing – the situation can’t be solved, so we shouldn’t even try.”
People’s lives, probably including American lives, depend on us trying. While there’s hope, there’s life.