Sunday, January 04, 2009

Don't Ask me about Israel and Palestine

Everyone else seems to understand the conflict between Israel and Palestine better than I do. It must be nice.

Some people are very angry at Israel. They say the bombing and this invasion were unprovoked acts of aggression by Israel aimed at crushing the Palestinian people. Some talk of ''genocide''.

And yet, Hamas has been firing rockets at Israel for some time, which strikes me as a tad provocative. My friends who support Palestine unconditionally seem to ignore that fact. Why? Doesn't it matter? And all the suicide bombings. Are the Israeli civilians who are targeted less deserving of peace and security for some reason? What could justify killing children?

Don't the Palestinians recognize Israelis as human beings?

And if you fire rockets at civilians in a country with a very strong military, you have to know that you're endangering their people and your own. Was Hamas hoping for a massive military response to turn public opinion against Israel? If so, aren't they part of the problem here?

I have friends who say that we outsiders can't comment on the democratically-elected party in Gaza. But, can we point out that Hamas has made no bones about the fact that they see the deaths of Palestinians as a propaganda victory, if not a military victory? It seems to me that they're hoping to either kill Israelis, or that Israelis will kill Palestinians. Imagine a party getting elected in the United States that saw the deaths of American civilians as beneficial for ''swaying world opinion'' and welcomed those deaths. Can we at least say that Palestine could do better than Hamas? How about saying that, if Israel is committing crimes against the humanity of Palestinians, Hamas is their willing accomplice in those crimes?

Now, other people are very angry with Palestine. They argue that Israel's response has not only been ''proportionate'', but has not gone far enough. They often say things like ''force is the only thing that Arabs understand''. However the theory that using force against Arabs will make them bend to your will must surely have been disproven in the last century, right?

Also, why are Palestinians, as human beings, undeserving of peace and security too? Is the assumption on the part of Arab warmongers that Jews are not entirely human; and on the part of Western warmongers that Muslims are not entirely human? Don't human beings ultimately 'understand' motivatiors other than force?

If I was going to play therapist, I'd imagine that those in the ''kill 'em all'' camps, on either side, are lumping all Palestinians, Israelis Muslims, or Jews together because it's simply painful to see children getting blown apart in schools, or neighborhoods, or riding the bus by explosives. It's senseless, and inhumane, and stupid, whether or not it was provoked. And even if you're detonating those bombs, this must be evident.

And, by now, hasn't everyone in the Middle East been provoked? Doesn't everyone have a legitimate grievance of some sort? Will anyone ever be provoked to forgiveness, or is that something that has to be self-generated?

Also, given that Hamas is firing rockets at Israel, those rockets seem to be nothing like what Israel has responded with. So how does this action provoke this response? Has this sort of massive firepower overkill ever worked against entrenched guerrilla fighters anywhere in history? Doesn't Israel care at all about world opinion, which is quite opposed to their response? What could this sort of aggressive response possibly gain them? It won't help the situation in Gaza, in Israel, or in the rest of the world. Hamas might lose, but Israel can't possibly win.

Don't Israelis recognize Palestinians as human beings?

So, as a complete naif in this conflict, it seems to me that you have two groups of people that have suffered great historical wrongs who are living right next to each other. Both of them want and deserve security and peace. Both of them are living in miserable, terrifying circumstances. Most importantly, they are both made up of human beings- full human beings- who have nothing to gain by this sort of life and nothing to learn from being bombed or shot. Sadly though, both of them have cultures that have been seemingly hijacked by a minority of bloodthirsty warmongers, which they need to rid themselves of before they can live together.

Good luck taking sides on that one.

Postscript: Actually, okay, here is who I could side with on this conflict- if there was a group called 'Jews for Palestine' and another group called 'Muslims for Israel', I'd join both of them.


Holly said...

I was just talking to Greg about this the other day. I think the way Isreal was created pretty much invited this type of situation, given the various histories and attitudes. Not saying that was the wrong way to do that, but finding the "right" way might never have happened at all.

Rufus said...

Right, they definitely didn't set it up well. But, alas, there's no real chance to do it over. And neither country is going anywhere any time soon. I don't know how anyone will fix things now.