As much sympathy as the rest of the world has for both your causes, and your desire to live simply in peace and prosperity; we do think of you as two peoples, tragically beholden to fanatics, that have no real sense of both yours or the others’ own interests.
First of all dear Israel, it’s understandable for you to be existentially paranoid after the Holocaust, and then being attacked on all borders immediately after the state of Israel was declared on the former Palestine in 1948. We get that. You’re in a tiny strip of land with the sea lapping at your backs and much larger countries with hostile cultures to you bustling around intimidatingly on all sides.
You live in constant, daily fear of terrorist rocket attacks or suicide bombings. You are vilified throughout the region you live in the worst possible anti-Semitic terms. You have a potentially nuclear armed Iran within missile range, whose current leader has vowed to remove you from the map! So it’s perfectly reasonable for you to feel like a bunch of itchy-trigger-finger-niggaz*.
But c’mon. Will you ever admit that forcibly occupying a country that did already have people in it, killing ten people for every one of yours that dies in conflict, and relentlessly taking more and more of the land that was legally theirs… y’know, doesn’t look that cool? And anyone who ever says anything that doesn’t paint Israel in a glowing light is instantly a traitor or a bigoted anti-Semite who simply isn’t capable of constructive or objective criticism? Surely you do yourselves no favors with such stances?
For a people who have been unfairly beat-up on pretty much throughout recorded history, you sure have forgotten what it’s like to be the beaten-up little guy impressively fast. Where the hell is your empathy? The first chance you get, and the bullied become the bullies?
In every war you’ve been in you’ve kicked ass and taken names. The best your Arab neighbors have done was wars of attrition where no one won. Thanks to winning, your borders are now far, far beyond Israel’s original mandate. And winning has led to peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan which have secured your south-western and eastern borders.
And yet that’s not enough. You want to keep on expanding and expanding to ‘ensure your security’ and because your faith justifies it; as though killing people and taking the land they’ve lived on for generations is some sort of holy act that will make you more secure.
Y’know, this doesn’t seem to be the best example of the long-sightedness and intelligence you are famous for.
You’re justifiably proud of your status as ranking the highest among Middle Eastern countries on the UN Human Development Index, having the 41st largest GDP in the world, having universal suffrage and representative democracy. All in a mere 60 years on a tiny thimble of sand! That’s extremely impressive. But you know the democracy you most closely resemble when you look at the maps below? Apartheid South Africa.
You’re effectively making Palestine a collection of ever-decreasing Bantustans. But the end result of this odious strategy of occupation will leave you with one of two outcomes. As Stephen Walt remarks:
Israel can end the occupation, embrace a genuine two-state solution, preserve its democratic and Jewish character and remain a cherished U.S. ally. Or it can continue the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza – a course that will eventually force it to abandon either its Jewish character or its democratic principles, and jeopardize its standing with its most important partner.
Given the lop-sided birth rates of Palestinians vs Israelis, this covert ‘one state’ solution you seem to be following will ultimately end up with you as the minority in any greater Israel. How does that grab ya? Not to mention the small fact that you’re destabilizing the rest of the world because Muslims everywhere are using you as reason for jihad against innocent people who have nothing to do with you.
Are you crazy?
And poor Palestine; it’s hard to comprehend the impotent rage you must feel of living in a conquered land and being informed from on high that your country is now somebody else’s, thanks for asking. It’s inarguable that the colonial British and French powers did a typical job of dividing up conquered land with their customary lack of regard for existing geography or the distribution of people.
You’re forced to endure huge waits and relentless humiliation any time you want to travel anywhere, and you’re constantly subject to arbitrary arrest and the seizure of your land. Most of you live behind fences and walls not of your own creation. Ranking an impressive 77th in the world for literacy rates of 93.8% must make your poverty rates of 63% and unemployment rates of 25% all the more acute and galling. And you have economic sanctions that are just making everything even worse for you. You’ve endured a hundred years of being history’s losers now, and it’s just not just.
But possibly the worst thing you have to live with has been your consistently dumb-ass and petulant leadership. Rejecting out of hand the 1947 offer to divide Palestine equally between Jews and Palestinians, made by the major powers that just won their second World War in a row? I don’t think you need the benefit of hindsight to realize that wasn’t the cleverest strategy open to you. But you know, it’s understandable. Emotions were high.
But your decisions to keep on trying to fight the Israelis with your sticks and stones and second-hand rockets, like ants attacking the war rhino that’s just stomped over their nest? What’s wrong with you? You obviously can’t win militarily, and you can’t win through terrorism either. Ever. Full stop.
Here’s why. Because it’s been going on since the day of Israel’s founding, average Israelis have pretty much managed to normalize and internalize your attacks like no other country on earth has. They basically accept them as part of daily life, like traffic in New York.
So you may think your terrorist attacks against your oppressor are noble and hurting Israel and somehow serving some sort of political interest – but they’re not. They don’t just create further justifications for Israel to keep expanding its borders in the interests of ‘security’, you actually force Israel to keep tightening the screws on your daily life, and keep up its disproportionate responses like the Gaza war. You “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. And you go out of your way to publicly celebrate killing Israeli children?
Have none of you ever heard of this skinny little Indian guy called Ghandi? He invented this concept called satyagraha, or resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa or total nonviolence. With it he led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Except for you geniuses.
You realize that if you abdicated all violence tomorrow, after decades of consistently losing everything – you’d start to win? World opinion would swing overwhelmingly to your cause. Israel’s current policies would quickly become completely untenable. You’d have the unquestionable moral high ground for all to see. But I’ve had it put to me that “there will be no peace until the Palestinians love their children more than they hate the Jews.” Do you really hate Jews more than you care about you and your own childrens’ future?
Of course the great, green, poisoned chalice from which both Palestinians and Israelis thirstily drink, is religion – or more specifically, the blind faith (is there any other type?) of the fundamentalists on both sides. Nothing else on the planet but religion can make good people do evil things. The Sydney Morning Herald puts it clearly:
The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, brilliantly isolated the nature of faith. He said there were three types of people: the majority, who are content to align their deepest wishes with society’s ethical standards; the “tragic heroes” who must give up their own interests and be willing to act against nature in the interests of society; and the “knights of faith” who step across an immense chasm by being willing to act against their own nature and social ethics based simply on the conviction that it is God’s will.
There is no human, ethical justification for their action. Its justification is only to be found in a direct personal communication with God, which is beyond argument, beyond ethics, beyond reason.
Pure faith is without content. The real problem is not that those who stop believing in God will believe in anything, but that those who have faith in God can justify doing anything.
So when will the peaceful amongst you, Jews and Palestinians, drop your enabling behaviors and stand up against the mindlessly violent fundamentalists in your midst? What on earth is it going to take?
According to Wikipedia, recent genetic evidence has demonstrated that Palestinians as an ethnic group are closely related to Jews and represent modern “descendants of a core population that lived in the area since prehistoric times”.
WTF is wrong with you people?
It’s tragically ironic how unholy everyone seems to treat each other in the holy land. Really? That’s the effect ‘holy’ land has on human interactions? That land seems a lot more steeped in blood and violence than any kind of love.