Perhaps we are not asking the right questions. Is separation between Palestine and Israel the answer? Or is the question really how much do they want peace?
Is it possible for two different cultures to get along in harmony? If that is the case, then does Israel become the ultimate litmus test of who we are by our very natures?
As humans, we see things by lines in the sand and dotted lines on maps. We are territorial and we are possessive. Even to the point when this works completely against us, and causes more problems than it solves. This is probably the single factor working against Israel and Palestine.
After the Diaspora, Jews left Palestine and never returned. Early in the 1900's the Zionist movement started working towards a home land for the Jews. They set their sights on the traditional land that had been called Israel. For one thousand years, the Jews chose not to return to their origins. During those one thousand years, an indigent people moved there and lived. A people called the Palestinians.
The movement for a Jewish home land took on greater meaning after the holocaust suffered under Nazi Germany had ended. In 1948, Israel was chartered and recognized by the United Nations.
11 minutes after the British withdrew; Israel was hit on three sides by a superior military force that tried to kill Israel even as it was being born. Israel won the day.
And what of the people who were residing there? Many fought and died for Israel. And none were thanked, leaving a bitter taste. Afterwards, Israel pointed at a map and said to them this is ours, yours is over there – please go.
Over simplification yes, but it is also the bottom line.
Hardliners grew on both sides. This is mine they declared. All missing the major point because through Abraham, all are brothers who shared in a common birth right – the land comprised of Israel and Palestine.
The Jews and the Palestinians have added to the history of the land, but greed obscures that into the fading sunset and the timeless sands of the desert.
The epicenter is the mount where the great temple was. On there now resides a mosque and the third most holy site of the Moslem faith. Two religious groups so dedicated to God can’t even agree that there is room enough for both a Temple and a Mosque.
Palestinians were driven forcibly to their side of the dotted line. Enmity was the operative word and practice. More hardliners came forward on both sides and now each side hates the other. All because of a dotted line on a map.
Those who were displaced got to take with them their belongings, and their houses given to Israel’s new citizens. No reparations, no thanks and only a burning desert awaited the displaced ones. They, the displaced ones, had to start anew in an area undeveloped.
They were put in harms way by their own when Israel was attacked a second time from three sides. This time though, they did not fight for Israel and why should they.
The last chance for finding peace ended when Rabin was shot to death by one of his own. Israel’s religious far right will not tolerate peace with anyone, and they gained control of Israel’s government. In their aggression and warped religious self righteousness, they have completely overlooked and erase from their collective memories the lessons learned in the story of Cain and Able. Of what God said is our responsibility, and their resistance to become their brother’s keeper.
Israel now occupied the very territory they had banished the Palestinians to. Israel’s hard right moved into this area, commandeered it for their own and built settlements illegally. The Palestinians did not exactly appreciate it all, and from their ranks came the militants and the fight was on.
Israel’s hard right moved into the Gaza and repeated the same as what was happening on the West Bank. From that grew more militants and more fighting.
Israel’s defiant stance strained relations in the area that was just getting used to the idea the Jews had come back.
US, British and French occupation of the Middle East was still a sore spot in the eyes of the Middle Eastern countries. And with Israel becoming a pet US project, finger pointing and accusations started flying.
Adding to the tension was the refusal of the US to rein Israel into line.
Attacks on each other made Israel and Palestine look like the Hatfields and McCoys of American folk lore.
Sharon and Arafat are two iron willed nitwits who should not be in power if there is to be any reconciliation over there. Both men completely disregard that given equal settings Palestinians and Israelis will benefit each other. My wife has friends in Israel who are doctors and they work shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian doctors and each contributes to the other. There is a wonderful working relationship built on the brotherhood of a profession and a genuine respect for each other. But Sharon and Arafat want them to hate each other for no other reason than hate alone.
The religious hardliners on both sides are each calling for war.
Israel has built a wall deep into Palestinian land.
Where does then peace start? Israel must, without reservation, take the initiative without casting blame. Israel through its very actions has contributed to the majority of the problems.
The religious right must be involuntarily divorced from the political scene – on both sides so cooler heads can moderate.
Israel must address the original displacement of the Palestinians and there should be compensation for that which was stripped of them. We demand compensation from Germany for the actions of the Nazi government, and the Palestinians have rights to compensation for what they lost.
If Israel wants to live by the dotted lines on a map, then the walls have to come down and Israel vacates the occupied lands.
If both sides want to live by dotted lines on a map, then neither have claim to Jerusalem which was declared a ward of the UN back in 1948.
If there is to be reconciliation, Sharon and Arafat must step down to let saner people come together and work on a viable and plausible future. And to cement a common past.
To look at a brighter future of a common people joined in a common love for a mother land, to be flying a single flag and as a united entity. Martin Luther King said: “I have a dream”. His dream was not just for the US.
Israel and Palestine must decide what they want their future to be. If both continue on the path they are on, don’t bring your complaints about the other to the world stage. Why should the greater good of man kind have to listen any more cries about self inflicted misery?
Israel especially should stop complaining. You are increasing the tensions, you are making bitter enemies and the next time they come at you – I doubt if you will survive. There are too many nuclear weapons out there and I would not be surprised if you don’t have a few of them with your name on it. And, Israel, when you go down, you will be taking down the Palestinians – the very people you need to moderate between you and the Arab countries. Think about that.