10 January 2009

Fence-sitter

I've always tried to look at both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a friend of mine says, "I'm on the side of human rights." I believe in the safety and security of both sides. I disagree with both sides on how to go about it.

I've been skipping over most commentary about the current manifestation of the conflict, because it feels like "same old, same old." But the other day I came across this on Bitch, PhD. It made so much sense and was so different from the other arguments I heard, mostly because of its perspective and this:
America's moral support of Israel manifests as support for virtually every action Israel takes. When Israel blocks off food and supplies to Gaza, it is properly defending itself. When Israel kills twenty Palestinians in response to a single Israeli casualty, it is properly defending itself. When Israel wages war on half a nation in outrage at two of its soldiers taken hostage, Israel is properly defending itself. When Israel sequesters a people in a tiny strip of land with no real economy and doesn't allow them egress and entry, it is properly defending itself. In short, there is nearly nothing Israel can do that it not defended by mainstream American politicians and thinkers on both sides of the political aisle as an appropriate defense of its right to exist. American opinion is so utterly lopsided in Israel's favor that the mere criticism of any Israeli action will cause the criticizer to be rained upon with a dozen accusations of anti-Semitism.
It was so refreshing to read because it's true. People in the West don't know how to speak out against Israel because they are a state created by the British in their withdrawal from colonialism that was meant to make up for all the past atrocities. It was created in such a haphazard way, that the consideration of other religious groups in the area was completely lacking -- besides how many people actually need a homeland. And isn't Mecca enough?

No. It's not. Israel was created as a Jewish state to the exclusion of other ethnicities and cultures in the area, and because of past transgressions (ghettos, the Holocaust, etc.) they've been given a blank slate to write and rewrite the rules over and over again. And maybe, in the past six years, they've taken advantage of some of the other anxiety and xenophobia floating around to impose their rule most stringently. Does it make them laugh with megalomania to see how much they can get away with?

Having been neither alive nor an active citizen of Canada when most of the conflict unfolded over the past couple of thousand years, I sometimes feel ill-equipped to comment. But when so many people are in such danger of death or immediate harm, I wish that the swaggering machismo could be put aside long enough to take a look at who's being hurt, and to find a solution that works for everyone in the future, because nothing at this point will change the past.

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