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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why being pro-Israel is neither anti-Palestinian nor anti-peace.

Actually, I’m anti-Piece, which is what seems to be the version being sought by Hamas in the ME. I am pro-Israel only partly because I was born there and had the privilege of living there as an adult as well--the other part is that it's the right thing to do for the world, but keep reading. Israel is a wonderful place. In addition to the wonderfully cosmopolitan feel of Tel Aviv, the artsy feel of Haifa, and the humbling feel of Jerusalem, Israel is packed full of little towns, kibbutzim (communal living), villages, and every other arrangement you can think of.

I lived in Tel Aviv for a part of the time I was there as an adult (in the late ‘90s). Tel Aviv has been called the New York City of the ME. I now live in a little town in North Florida. I TA, I knew my neighbords. One of them taught me how to darn socks—she was a lovely old lady whose husband was in his 80s and went to work every day at a book store because he hated being unemployed and she hated having him underfoot while she cleaned the house (top to bottom daily) and cooked. She cooked as she had when her kids were at home, so she always had extra. Despite my rather “generous” build, she thought I needed feeding—and my housemates as well—so she would bring us up Shabbat dinner once a week. We would give her the fresh tomatoes we barely managed to keep alive on the balcony. But I knew my neighbors.

I’ve read blogs about how by fighting to defend their land, Israelis are creating new suicide bombers, because children who grow up in such violent environments with war all around them are bound to become violent and be suicide bombers. Of course, I grew up in such a social milieu (until I was about 7.5), and I have yet to want to strap on explosives. I have friends who grew up in it all the way through their 20s and not only didn’t want to bomb any civilians, but joined the growing peace movements in Israel

There are several peace movements in Israel. There’s Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), Dor Shalem Doresh Shalom (a whole generation demands peace) and others. I bet many of my readers didn’t know that. my generation wants peace. My father’s generation wanted peace, too, but I think they were and are mired in a different kind of thinking about it. As the children of the Holocaust adults, they see peace as a form of all or nothing survival. My generation has figured out what they would have had they not been fighting against unwarranted attacks every few months; namely that a people who have a homeland—especially a people who have had to fight so hard to gain, build, and maintain said homeland—have a moral obligation to help others to gain the same.

The Palestinians deserve a homeland. There are those who, at this point, would remind me that they make up 80% or more of the Jordanian populace. And they do. But clearly, they are not in a homeland there. Maybe they need to split Jordan (plus the West bank, but minus Jerusalem and Bethlehem) with the Hashemites. We give some, Jordan gives some, everyone helps them get started so they don’t have to lean on terrorists like Hamas and they have a chance of surviving.

But that’s my dream. No one will go for it. Still, I’d like to explain it.

First, I want to talk about Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Jerusalem and Bethlehem belong to the world, and should be open to it for all forms of visit, pilgrimage, or worship. Three major religions find import in Jerusalem, and two in Bethlehem. Yet under Arab control, these places and the holy sites within them were not open to any person wishing to visit. Under Israeli control they have been. I think history bears out the need to keep Jerusalem and Bethlehem under Israeli control.

But the settlers in the West Bank would have to move for my plan to work. Israel was given the right to hold the territories until such time as a lasting peace was negotiated. You have to agree that it hasn’t looked like it would ever happen in the decades Israel’s held the territories. But I think that if the settlers were willing to move (that is if the Israeli government were willing to tell them that they can choose to move or choose to be under a Palestinian government), that the deal I have set above might work.

The next question, of course, is the Jordan River. The West Bank is called such because it is attached to the West Bank of the Jordan River. This is a tactical issue for both sides. First, Israel controls the now trickle of a river above and below the WB. That means it could cut off water, but it also means the Palestinians could use it to advantage. I think that both sides will have to build a lasting peace and the idea that an equal tactical threat will still exist is simply going to have to be accepted. Besides, I think that if Israel takes the time and makes the effort (as does Jordan and the international community) to help set up a functional Palestine, it won’t be a problem.

But functional is the key word in that sentence. All the infrastructure in the territories that currently exists was built by Israel because every governing body the Palestinians have had (from Arafat to Abbas to Hamas) has been corrupt. Millions of international dollars have gone to bakshish and personal gain (and to pay off the families of suicide bombers!). If Palestine is thrown to the Palestinians like meat to a rabid dog, it will fall to ruin through corruption.

If, however, actual help is offered, rather than creating a Friedmanite free fraud zone (like the US haplessly created in the former USSR), there is a very good chance that Palestine would flourish. Its refugees who have fled to the US and been educated, the ones who were educated in Israel, and the ones who have managed to educate themselves in Europe could come back and help make it the cause celebre it could rightly be. Note that most Arab countries do not extend the right to education to Palestinians—because ignorant people are easier to control and the Palestinians have been an Arab pawn for decades.

Jews make up less than a percent of the world’s population and more than 19 percent of its Nobel Prize Winners. No, that’s not a sign that they have the Nobel Committee under their control. If the Palestinians were given the chance to educate their children (and their women!), imagine what they might also accomplish. Living in the desert can lead to great ability to overcome, just as it has led to great ability to defraud.

And so my pro-Israel stand is a stand for peace. It’s a stand to get the terrorists out of Gaza so they stop using Palestinians as media pawns. It’s a stand to replace the Piece process with a Peace process.

Hey, a girl can hope.


GHB til Frokost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GHB til Frokost said...

"...Israel was given the right to hold the territories until such time as a lasting peace was negotiated."

Uhm, sorry, but when was this right given and by whom?

Jordan, the former occupiers had, as far as I know, no such right either. Israel quickly initiated a change of the legal status of Jerusalem and began a massive project of changing the so called "facts on the ground" in their new "Greater Jerusalem". Also countless UN resolutions calls on the gouvernment to cease the establishement, construction and planning of settlements on Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.

"...But I think that if the settlers were willing to move (that is if the Israeli government were willing to tell them that they can choose to move or choose to be under a Palestinian government)...".

Were the settlers in Gaza "willing" to move?

I don't think even the most generous amount of money and priveliges would make the majority willing to move, and to be under a palestinian government is totally out of the question.

If there ever is elected an Israeli government that respects the laws and the international society and a unified palestinian leadership capable of building a state and control violent fractions, then there is hope for a final peace solution.