Friday, January 09, 2009

In conversation about Gaza

In response to my blog about what's behind Israel's attack on Gaza, I received comments from "Civax", an Israeli whose parents live in Ashkalon on the southern borders of Israel. What started as statements of "enemy" camps developed into a conversation. The lengthy exchanges were being relegated to the comments page of the archived blog. I decided in the interest of the dialog to publish my latest reply to Civax as a new posting, so it can be found and followed easier. Here goes:

Dear Civax

Yes I agree with you, that some Arab regimes want Israel to rid them of the Palestinian problem, the problem being a model of how people despite dire circumstances can self-organize and resist oppressor regimes. This tacit cooperation merely demonstrates that the conflict is not an Arab/Jewish conflict but rather a conflict between tolerance and fanaticism, opression and resistance, people who value all human beings regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or political beliefs and people who are homophobic and racist.

In many cities of the world Arab and Jewish people (both from Israel and outside) demonstrated side by side against the Gaza massacres, while both Arab and Israeli politicians played their diplomatic games while civilians were slaughtered. The Jewish women who occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto in support of the Palestinians (not necessarily Hamas) are closer to me than Arab fanatics blowing themselves amongst Israeli civilians.

Regardless of the details of any peace agreement, the first step is to acknowledge the injustice done to the wronged party. Such acknowledgment opens the way to reconciliation and to resolving not just differences but the wounds of the past. This was the way in Germany and Japan after WW II. This was the way in South Africa, where the Truth & Reconciliation Committee hearings were arduous and painful, but way better than killing each other. This is also the way in Canada as we start addressing the injustice and suffering caused to First Nations by colonists and immigrants.

Until we acknowledge the injustice done explicitly, we can't start seeing each other as human beings and we will continue to deal with each other in the context of "enemies".

As for the need of a strong Palestinian leadership, I agree that such leadership would make negotiations and implementing agreements easier. I personally don't believe, however, that Israel is genuinely interested in fostering and supporting such strong leadership. Supporting those leader that are willing to accept unfair conditions against the will of their people, destroying every emerging infrastructure of an independent Palestinian state, driving a spike between elected Hamas and the PA, etc. are all acts that weaken the Palestinian leadership.

There is no need for alarm though. If the surrounding Arab states are any indication, then a Palestinian state (assuming it is allowed to be
reasonably sovereign and independent) would just produce another "strong man" regime, which if friendly to western interest would be called "democratic" and otherwise would join the "axis of evil". Such states never were a real threat to Israel as documented by the historic results on the ground for the past 60 years not by the propaganda's rhetoric.

But back to the fndamentals: An Israeli baby was wounded by one of the rockets launched against Israel. This is traumatic for both the child and the parents. In the last few weeks over TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE CHILDREN DIED in Gaza. Can you really justify such a crime with any political rhetoric? Can you really look the other way?

Well, I can't. It is past 3:00 A.M. and the pictures are haunting me and the emotions are robbing me of sleep. And I sincerely hope you can't too, because if we could, we would have lost a great deal if not all of our humanity.

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