Israel / Palestine Thoughts

Like many BNR readers, I voted for Obama. 

Like many BNR readers, I voted for Hillary.  

Like many BNR readers, I will be voting for Biden.  

Like many BNR readers, I am an ardent supporter for LGBT rights, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary. 

I am opposed to Russian military aggression around the world including in the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and and Georgia, and I am opposed to Russian interference in the elections of the United States and our NATO allies. 

I believe trans rights are the new gay rights. 

Unlike most of you, I was born to two Jewish parents, and have extended family in Israel. 

When I went to Israel, I argued with a third (or was it fourth…) cousin about the danger settlements pose to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. With Netanyahu’s recent annexation plans, things have only gotten worse in this regard. 

When I went to Israel, I did not go to Jerusalem, because I am not religious. I visited gay bars in Tel Aviv.

My opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are in fact mixed. 

Many of you will think because I am Jewish, it is impossible for me not be biased with regards to the situation. Perhaps it is. It probably is. But I will try anyhow.

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Palestinians have a rightful claim to their own state. They have a rightful claim to some of the land in question, though not all of it. 

It is correct to have a thorough understanding of the history of the region, in order to form a fair judgement. 

The term “Palestinia” originates to a Roman emperor, Hadrian, who sought to punish the Jews for their revolt against the Roman Empire. The province of Judaea was renamed Palaestina, after the historic enemies of the Jews, the Phillistines. Hadrian literally wiped the Jewish state from the map and replaced it with a province purposefully hostile to Jews, “Palaestina”. 

Taken in context of the Israelites and the Phillistines, is clear to see that the conflict between Jews and Palestinians has a long history. Both the Palestinians (the descendants of the Phillistines) and the Jews with which they warred, have valid claims to the land. 

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It is reasonable to state that both groups have valid claims to the land on the basis that both groups have historic ties to the land. It follows that a two state solution which rebukes Israel’s recent land grabs is the only solution.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians have in fact repeatedly demonstrated they have no appetite for any Jewish state, whatsoever.

I will mention only one example, perhaps the most famous: Yasser Arafat’s rejection of Bill Clinton’s Camp David Peace Accords. However, there are many examples of Palestinians declining arrangements which include a Jewish state in the Middle East. 

With regards to Bill Clinton’s peace accords:

“ On Tuesday night, [Bill] Clinton told guests at a party at the Manhattan apartment of former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke and his wife, writer Kati Marton, that Arafat called to bid him farewell three days before he left office. “You are a great man,” Arafat said. “The hell I am,” Clinton said he responded. “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one.””

https://www.newsweek.com/clinton-arafat-its-all-your-fault-153779?amp=1

This is not an Israeli blaming the Palestinians. It is not even a republican blaming the Palestinians. It is a Democratic American President exasperated at the lack of a Palestinian appetite for a Jewish state alongside a Palestine.

As Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state has become more and more self evident, Israeli willingness to compromise has correspondingly decreased. This is clearly seen in Netanyahu’s rise in the wake of Clinton’s ‘failure’ with Yasser Arafat. 

As they say, as you sow, so shall you reap. 

I welcome the Palestinian viewpoint specifically on the Camp David Accords, in addition to every other peace proposal that has ever been presented to the Palestinians. 

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With that said, I do believe viewpoints on both sides of the aisle which present one side as exclusively evil perpetuates the status quo. In doing so, both sides are guilty of perpetuating the status quo. 

This works for conservatives, but not so much for liberals who want to change the status quo.

In this regard, what I have found to be particularly counterproductive and hyperbolic, is the notion that Israel is genocidal. I think a very, very strong argument can be made for Israel and the West Bank as an apartheid state. Living in the West Bank as a Palestinian, you are a second-class citizen under Israeli rule. 

However, accusing Israel of genocide doesn’t fit the bill. Let us review the definition of genocide:

“ the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.”

When the Tutsis had genocide committed against them, when Yazidis has genocide committed against them, when the handicapped had genocide committed against them by nazis, it was total and to completion. As many handicapped that could be killed, were killed. As many Tutsis that could be butchered, were butchered. As many Jews as could be shoved into a gas chamber, were shoved. 

The 15% of Israel which is Muslim and votes in Israeli elections, is not subject to killing sprees and summary executions. Mobile gas vans equipped with chemical weapons are not on patrol in Israel or the West Bank. Population growth doesn’t help the genocide argument either. If the Palestinians are having genocide committed against them, they would be the first group ever to experience population growth while also experiencing genocide. 

The dual nature of Israel and Palestine is apartheid. It isn’t genocide. 

There is other hyperbole. Gaza is not the largest open air prison on earth. That award goes to North Korea, Iran, or China. 

Another comment I often see is something to the effect of, Jews should have gotten land in Utah or some such place. These commenters are ignorant to millennia of Jewish history in the region now known as Israel. This is established by archeological record, not an old book. Liberal ignorance with regards to Jewish history on the land called Israel often disappoints.

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I do not believe Israel should be exempt from fair criticism. I do not seek to exonerate Israel from the crimes it or it’s soldiers have committed. However, from the individuals who accuse Israel of genocide, I sometimes find something else besides counterproductive hyperbole: a lack of interest in criticizing far worse regimes. 

China jails or kills dissident citizens and journalists. It has no free speech to advocate for LGBT rights, abortion rights, BLM, anthropogenic global warming, or any other cause liberals believe in. China is sterilizing it’s Uighur Muslim minority. China installs security cameras in the living rooms of Uighurs. The police state the Chinese have established over what was Uighur territory is likely the most Orwellian place on earth. While Palestinians worship Allah freely in the West Bank, in China, they do so at severe risk of finding themselves permanently locked away in prison for the ‘crime’ of practicing Islam. Where are the boycotts from the far left?

One argument I have heard is that because Israel is a US ally, it should be held to a higher standard. Well, that’s fine on a real politik level, but it doesn’t speak to the Uighur woman who was sterilized by the Chinese government. Or the Uighur man locked away for alleged dissidence in some Orwellian thought crime. Or the Uighur child who will never know the culture of his parents, only the culture of the Chinese Communist Party.  On a real politik level, it is valid to say Israel can be held to a different standard than China because Israelis are moderately dependent on American aid. On a moral level, I see zero validity.  

But yes, go ahead and criticize Israeli soldiers who commit immoral actions, and their superiors who sometimes authorize such actions. That is deserved and fair. 

Just don’t be suckered into the belief that only one side has guilt in this conflict. Palestinian suicide bombs are no less gruesome than Israeli non-suicide smart-bombs. The various attempted Arab invasions of Israel in the 1960’s and 1970’s do not speak to an Arab population which can accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. However, it is moral for the Israeli people to maintain an open hand to their neighbors, and not a closed fist.

The belief that only side X is responsible for the conflict only furthers the intractability of the conflict and enables the nationalists on both sides. Both sides have done things in opposition of conflict resolution, and the American approach must be balanced accordingly.

Israel / Palestine Thoughts

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