An appeal to reason

A comment appeared in one of my stories which deserves some attention, and I would like to take the opportunity not only to clarify my position on the matter, but also to address many of the points brought up in his arguments. I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss what my opinions are concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, lest my audience assume I am one sided on the issue.

We’ll begin with the letter itself, which reads:

One side of the story isn’t it [referring to the comment I wrote on the video featuring ‘Mickey Mouse’ enticing children to violence]? The Israelis have their own programs that put out propaganda against the Arabs, Muslim or non [sic]. In areas of Palestine, where the Jews have illegally claimed possession of land, Jewish children are to go to school before Palestinian kids, and when the Palestinian kids head off to school, they and their families get ridiculed and have rocks thrown at them by the Jews living there.

They live through this every day, IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY! The UN has put out many resolutions and many documents that ask for the removal of the Israelis from Palestinian territory, but it hasn’t happened in decades! DECADES! From 1955 to 1991 alone, there have been more than 60 UN resolutions against Israel due to it’s [sic] treatment of Palestinians and their territory. So much violence! Even the small things that Israel does, is unimaginable! The Palestinians get stuck in traffic for hours if Israelis want to move and use the roads. The Palestinians have to pay fees and fines to use their own roads and streets and this right to use part of their own infrastructure is determined by ISRAELI soldiers! They have to have papers and permits to travel, live, worship and shop in their OWN COUNTRY!

People need to realize who owns the news and what restrictions are on the news that is being fed to the mainstream public. The diplomats that go into Palestine come out shocked and once they try to shed light on what is really going on, they are declared anti-Semitic, and have to work hard to remove that association from themselves and just quietly back down from the issue. When Israel invaded Lebanon, just some months ago, and bombed innocent civilians and residential areas and UN buildings with their PRECISION MISSILES, what in the world were you people watching?! They precisely hit the right targets. There was a documentary on PBS not too long ago that claimed that the propaganda, Jews against Arabs and Arabs against Jews, was being taught to kids and there were shows out there trying to reduce this. When are people going to realize that when people in that country live in so much poverty and chaos and daily violence and disruption, why would these citizens have attacks and more violence on their minds, rather than keeping their kids and families safe and trying to live out each day at a time?

If everything was peachy keen in their own lives, why would anyone go against a peaceful neighbor? Why would they risk retaliations on themselves, from a much, much more powerful, organized and well equipped Israeli military force, if everything was fine? Palestine doesn’t have an army. Who would go mess with someone much more advanced and powerful and definitely economically richer, when they have families to think of? Some people, whose families have been lost and died in this chaotic, nonsensical violence, get really angry. They want to retaliate, because they have nothing to lose anymore. That’s a hard thing to understand. These children’s programs against one group or the other are everywhere in that region; in Israel, as well as Palestine.

Don’t just believe that there is only one side to the news you hear about the middle east. Most of it people don’t get to hear. Surely, everyone who thinks critically can understand and respect that. You hear of one Israeli death and it’s publicized with as much sympathy as possible. Name the person or soldiers and their family members. Showing their family members on national news. Showing their grief. When several Palestinians die, each day due to conflict with Israeli soldiers – these are just civilians I am talking about – they are mention briefly and told in a way that no one remembers or cares. In fact, more often than not, it leaves the viewer with the message that somehow, it was the fault of the civilians, everytime, everyday?

Obviously, Ash here is very passionate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He brings up a few points I would like to address, particularly in regards to the propaganda he was referring to. First, I would like to indicate that Ash did not condemn the video itself, and jumped straight to the fact that Israel has its own children’s program to indoctrinate them against Muslims. Even if that were true, it does not diminish the sheer horror and vileness of the program itself. The children’s show was designed not only to create anti-Semitism, but to entice the very young to violence. I feel sympathy to anyone who has such restrictions placed upon them. No doubt Palestinians must feel like second class citizens within their own home. But their struggle does not justify the brainwashing of little children, nor should anyone believe for an instant that the violent assaults made on Israeli citizens is somehow justified as a consequence. Violence is never the answer, and the impoverished and desperate conditions of the Palestinian people will never be advanced by such actions.

This brings me to the second point. Ash asked why anyone would attack a stronger, richer, and more organized country. As the video demonstrated, so long as you begin to indoctrinate people at an early age, you can hope for an endless supply of radical followers who are motivated not by self interest, but by blind hatred and martyrdom. Are there any secular suicide bombers? No. The reason is even people hurt and angry at the loss of their family members are hard-pressed to take their revenge out on the innocent. They may hurl stones, insults, or far worse at the military, but few would strap bombs to themselves and attack a group of teenagers at a roller disco. For this to occur, a powerful mix of religious indoctrination, xenophobia, and complete surrender to people of authority is required. Anger and resentment is not enough; their enemies must be perpetually dehumanized, while simultaneously convincing young recruits that they will be given a special place for themselves and their families in heaven.

This brings me to my third point; that the peace process is impossible, so long as both sides believe the conflict is religious in nature. Over the years, many secular countries have attempted to resolve the conflict by proposing a number of measures to establish an official Palestinian state, all of which failed, not because of the lack of interest on the part of the Palestinian or Israeli people, but because their leaders refused to make the necessary concession needed for peace. Palestinian leaders, heavily influenced by various mullahs, felt that allowing Jews to live on their holy lands was completely unacceptable, while extreme Zionists argued that their holy text gave them historical rights to control all of Palestine. Israel’s claim to Palestine, based primarily on the Bible, and on little or no archeological evidence, is erroneous. We cannot, however, turn the clock back, and forcing millions of Jews to leave the area would be disastrous. Religion created the problem, which is why it must be eliminated from the discussion.

The level of indoctrination of Jews in Israel is light compared to the religious hatred inculcated upon the Palestinians by extremist religious organizations, such as Hamas. Still, Israeli politicians use fear to control their population into adopting measures that are far more conservative than they would otherwise hope for; a majority of Israelis want peace with Palestine, and support the idea of it becoming its own country. However, they simultaneously fear that such a move would create a totalitarian theocracy bent on their destruction, a fear that is not altogether unjustified.

So long as religious zealots on either side continue to use the conflict to further their own political and religious goals, Palestine will continue to be a miserable place to live. A strong secular movement must be put in place to eliminate the fear mongering and extremism each respective religion ensconces. It is my belief that such a move would drastically improve the situation for both Palestinians and Israelis, and would be a historical achievement in the peace process in the Middle East.

Comments (1)

  • avatar

    Joanna

    A secular approach is the best approach, like you state in reference to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. But the problem is, of course, how to manage this in the real world where tempers flair and past grievances trump rational discussion and peace talks. Religious fundamentalism/theocracy makes things so much more difficult and complex but the economics of the issue must also be addressed. Where are the jobs? How can people feed and raise their children in an unsafe, insecure environment? I can’t even imagine being the parent of an Israeli or Palestinian child living in fear.

    And how many rational folks are left anymore…seriously, in the intellectual community…it’s not called a political hotbed for nothing! Moderation has taken the back seat. The refugee crisis fuels the fire. And now that the U.S. has lost much of its reputation in a mediator role, what part can the U.S. play in easing the conflict? Our status is pretty low these days. We have our hands pretty full in other Middle East affairs/adventures….stretched thin and no silver lining in sight. Diplomacy is the answer…but we don’t seem to have the patience for the time and resources a non-military approach would take.

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