Palestine, Israel, and the State of War

Israelis killed by Palestinians in Israel ( bl...

Israelis killed by Palestinians in Israel ( blue ) and Palestinians killed by Israelis in Gaza ( red ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Detailed Map of Illegal Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

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.


2 thoughts on “Palestine, Israel, and the State of War

  1. List of X

    “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?” Of course, that’s not a perfect analogy.
    Let me try a better one even without mentioning the rockets lobbed at Duluth, and let’s make a more complete turn around. So, what if Native American tribes that lived on this land before white settlers came, were allowed by the US government to return and create their own independent country on the 1% of current Minnesota (actual size of Israel)? What if current and displaced residents of Minnesota did not recognize that new state and attack the tribes but somehow lost that war? What if in response all neighboring states expelled all known members of Native American tribes and made them move elsewhere, with that new Native American country being the main destination of these exiles? What if Wisconsin, Iowa, and most other neighboring states did not accept exiled Minnesotans into their population but kept them in concentration camps for decades? What if all these states surrounding the new country joined forces and started several more unsuccessful wars, with the tribes conquering another 1% of Minnesota? What if that new 1% is so strategically located that it’s only a 20 minute tank ride from that new 1% to EVERY major population center of the new country (and only a 20 second rocket flight time, should Wisconsin invade this land, again, and decide to attack the tribes from there, again)? What if in an effort to hold this new land and preserve at least some defensive advantage, the tribes installed army bases, settlements, checkpoints in that conquered land, making life extremely different for white settlers in that area? What if because of historical and religious grievances, and as a result of this new oppression, a large portion of the white settlers want all Native Americans killed (or at least prefer that to peace with them), and a fraction of them are actively pursuing that goal? What if tribes may theoretically desire peace but place survival of tribe members above peace (and above some rights of the settlers), knowing that a fraction of white settlers will try to attack and kill them, while they are on this land, whether peace is signed or not? What if the tribes already had withdrawn from a smaller and less important portion of the conquered new 1%, only to see that most aggressive settler fraction to actually be elected to power there? What if there were no realistic solution to this?
    Yes, still not a perfect analogy, but much more accurate, I think.


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