Taking a critical view of Israel is a sure way to make enemies in the United States, but it is difficult for me, at least, to be sympathetic to Israel or see eye-to-eye with Israel’s supporters, especially in the United States. Hypocrisy and bias inform the defense of Israel.
Answering real simple questions should get the conversation started, such as a very basic one: Why does the United States support Israel? What obligation do we have to Israel that the rest of the world does not?
This origins of the conflict go back many years prior to Israel declaring its independence in 1948. Religious Jews had always sought a Jewish homeland in Palestine. But without the state of Israel, the conflict would not be what it is today. One could also argue if Palestine were allowed legal statehood — something the Israelis do not want and something for which the United States only feigns support — the conflict would be very different as well. Israel would in fact be at war, not playing around with internal “security” issues. Two very different realities.
But as it is, Israel, with the United States’s support — politically, economically, and militarily — continues to suppress the rights of the Palestinians.
If you assess public opinion in the United States, it strikes me that support for Israel isn’t all that thoughtful or sophisticated. The rising conservative religious right, especially those of the eschatological bent, see Israel and conflict as an important part of Biblical prophecy. (That should scare people.)
If you assess the comments made in support on blogs and comments, you see bogus analogies, my favorite is the “what would the United States do if Canada started lobbing missiles into Duluth” sort of thing.
Try turning that around. What would you do if the Canadian Québécois, frustrated that they cannot establish an independent French-speaking state in Canada, were given a sizable chunk of Minnesota for their French-speaking homeland? They just take it. If you live in Moose Lake, you need to move…to Superior, Wisconsin. Then lets say they start a few wars, settle into Superior, Wisconsin, too (the better parts), and don’t recognize your basic rights and freedoms. Every time you want to see Grandma who still lives in Minnesota (now called Québécois) you need a to queue up, stand in line for hours or days, and suffer humiliations. Meanwhile, your simple cinder block house in Superior has been bulldozed. Now what would you do?
I suppose we can argue about whether or not Israel was a good idea in the first place — or even legal in the first place — but ultimately the Palestinians are a conquered people. As the conquerors, Israel has the power and responsibility to make it right. If Israel does, in fact, want peace, it must respect the basic rights of the Palestinians. The Palestinians are no different than any other people. They want their basic human rights respected, have security in their lives, and their property protected. As long as they are denied the ability to protect their own interests and the integrity of their rights, it seems odd that we would expect them to settle. Doesn’t it?
Israel essentially maintains an apartheid state, a religious colony that as a matter of official practice and law oppresses the Palestinian people. As we sit today, Israel continues its colonial expansion — using what they euphemistically call “settlements” — in areas supposedly designated for the Palestinians. That’s playing dirty, plain and simple.
It is easy to support positions that seem so simply black and white. Unfortunately, however, I don’t think support for Israel enjoys a fair and objective understanding of the facts and history. Go back and look for answers to the question Why does the United States support Israel? and see if that changes the situation at all.
- Gazans Dying Quietly for Netanyahu’s Re-election (desertpeace.wordpress.com)
- A Pillar Built on Sand (lrb.co.uk)
- Save Palestine -Do your part (mydestiny2011.com)
- Jewish Man Exposes Israel’s Lies (dprogram.net)