I’ve been reading, and getting into lots of debates, about Israel lately. The whole conflict over there hasn’t been one that’s taken a lot of my attention over the years, although it’s one subject I’ve always been aware I should take the time to educate myself on. I thought I’d try to condense my current thoughts about it here and hopefully we’ll be able to have a constructive and polite discussion about it.
Let me handle the usual complaints up front – no, I am not an anti-Semite. I have Jewish friends. I greatly admire many Jewish people, past and present, from Seinfeld to Einstein.
Nor am I anti-Zionist. I completely understand and sympathize with the desire of the Jewish people to have a land of their own where they can live without the fear of oppression, where they have a sense of self-determination.
On the other hand, I can totally sympathize with the feelings of the Arab people of Palestine. for 1000 years, they were occupied at various stages by the Christian armies of Europe, the Ottoman Empire, the British, Egyptians, Jordanians and now Israelis. They have lived on this land for 1000 years and, up until Britain took control in 1917, represented 90% of the population. Surely they too have a right to self-determination and to the land their families have lived on for so long?
It seems to me that the offer that the partitioning of Palestine is pretty difficult to justify on a moral basis. After all, the Palestinian Arabs weren’t the people who had been oppressing the Jews for the last 2000 years. It was mostly the Christians of Europe. Most recently, it was Christian Germany under the Nazis (yes, they were Christians). If the United Nations felt like the Jewish people deserved a land of their own, surely it would have been much more morally justified to carve out part of Germany for them? It doesn’t matter much that the Zionists WANTED Palestine – it wasn’t morally justified to punish the Arabs of Palestine.
So when we look at the anger and violence committed by the Palestinian Arabs (and their supporters in the other Arab countries) against the Jews “invading” (in their eyes) their country since 1917, we have to see it as they see it if we are truly to understand their position. They see the Israelis as invaders and they (the Arabs) are trying to defend their homeland against an occupying army.
The other factor in all this is that, rightly or wrongly, the UN *did* vote for the partition. Therefore, under international law (which I agree with), the Arabs should abide by the decision and take only lawful measures to fight against it if they feel (as I do) that it was immoral.
However, if we accept that the UN has the power to decide such things, then Israel also needs to abide by the UN’s resolution in 1976 that Israel should go back to it’s pre-1967 borders. This is also a resolution that both Hamas and the Arab League have said they will support and, with it, will recognize Israel’s right to exist.
So – I am not anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist, I am pro-peace and pro-justice.
However, like in all things, I don’t claim to know everything about the subject, so I’m happy to be corrected. All I’m interested in is getting to the truth.
Can anyone tell me where I am misguided or wrong?