Sunday, April 5, 2009

palestine

Since the disastrous war on Gaza at the end of last year, I've been thinking a lot about the Palestinian situation, which is surely one of the most controversial political issues of our time. I can barely read any books/articles on the topic because they are just too painful: the bias towards Israel is pretty widespread (except in the Arab world) and I feel it's pointless to read "analyses" that don't really take the Palestinians into account (we don't even call it Palestine anymore, it's supposedly the "West Bank" and "Gaza", although in a few decades those will probably be gone too).

I guess what really confuses me is people who don't think the Palestinians have a right to be angry. Yes, the lands belonged to the Jews a long time ago, but in the 1950s, they belonged to the Palestinians (although at the time the British had colonized them). So what gave England the right to cut the country in half and give it to the Zionists? (It is important to note that the Zionists were not really that religious; they wanted Israel for political and historical reasons; NOT for religious reasons, or a "return-to-the-holy-land").

Fine. So the Palestinians lost half their country. No one in the Arab world was willing to accept that in the 50s, but in the 70s and 80s, they realized Israel was there to stay. Then the settlements began. The best land, the best water, the best everything went to these Israelis who decided they HAD to live in the Palestinian territories. The Green Line was forgotten, and the Palestinians ignored. Roadblocks, checkpoints, identity cards multiplied. Arrests, torture etc intensified. Palestinian resistance was stepped up. All for a few hundred Jewish families who decided the Israeli half wasn't good enough: they wanted ALL of Palestine.

Of course, the Palestinians haven't been angels, but it is important to look at their resistance in the context of the miserable existence they lead: they are OCCUPIED, they are second-class citizens in their OWN COUNTRY; they have to pass checkpoints to get to hospitals, to work, to school. Yes, they throw rocks. But Israel responds with state-of-the art bombs supplied by America. Yes, there are suicide-bombings. But they feel they have no other way of resisting this terible status-quo.

APARTHEID ANYONE? Can someone please tell me the difference between South Africa under Apartheid, and Palestine/Israel today? There is none.

Another thing I don't understand is the unwavering support Israel has from Americans and the American gov't. Yes, the Israeli/Jewish lobby is powerful, but powerful enough to convince millions of Americans that Palestinians do not deserve any part of Palestine? It's sickening to see the portrayal of the Palestine/Israel conflict on most American news channels/shows/newspapers. Where is all this bias from?
Then again, it was the American government that stood by the Apartheid government almost until the end.

Not that we Arabs are innocent in all of this either. Arab countries and Arabs have done almost nothing to help the Palestinian cause. It has been used as an excuse for many things, but since the 1980s it is as if the Arabs have just given up on Palestine.

I highly recommend the book "The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", by two Harvard professors. They got attacked relentlessly by many Americans, but the book is brilliant.

2 comments:

kizzie said...

It's difficult to criticize Israel because the worst thing in the US is to be called anti-semetic, but there are interesting peace movements within Israel right now.

Check out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIwASYuDGYM

Sarah Elizabeth said...

As an American who is against what Israel is doing, and against the silence in America regarding the Palestinian plight, let me just say there are many here who are against the occupation. We have had our protests in the streets, and argued away, yet to date there is still not much coverage. We do not see the Palestinian deaths, not even after the attacks that recently occurred, killing 12 Israelis and over 1300 Palestinans..

Many are called anti-semitic when they do criticize, and the holocaust card is played heavily here. Most news agencies are stifled because the owners are Jews who support zionism.. it is a muddled mess and a tangled web that has been weaved...

The oddest part to me is the solidarity that has seemed to form between Jews and Christians, with Christian churches posting signs saying "We support Israel." There is also Christian propaganda running on religious channels asking other Christians to support Israel.

I'll be completely honest...I see a lot of racism going on within all of this.. White people finding commonality with other Whites, and turning brown skinned Palestinians into "Militants"... Therefore making the Palestinian plight a fault of their own... If they would "only stop fighting.."

Anyways, I could rant forever, but this is not new to history. I think an excellent comparison of what is happening to Palestinians is what happened to the North American Indians when the Europeans came and started grabbing land. American Indian and Palestinian history is becoming one in the same... If something is not done, Israel will confine Palestinians to reservations of the most inhospitable, unfarmable, and polluted land...

Americans feel so much guilt and regret over how the Indians were treated, and yet they support a repeat of history?? Truly our history is one of collective insanity..