Sunday, January 18, 2009

Israel & Palestine: Their 61-year-long war comes home to America
  • (These photos I took in Burma have nothing to do with this essay. I just like them)

    A friend of mine and I were recently talking about the horrific situation in Israel and Palestine. "I think they should all go back to the 1967 Green Line demarcation, declare a truce and start over," said my friend. "Then Israel could be a viable country and Palestine could be a viable country too."

    "Sounds good to me," I replied. "I'm just sick and tired of all this killing."

    "Yes," replied my friend, "and if Hamas would only stop shooting those rockets at Israel then everything would be all right. That's like as if Mexico was shooting rockets at America and...." Oh no, not that old false analogy again! So I went OFF on my friend.

    "That's NOT the same situation!" I exploded. "That analogy is wrong! Mexico wouldn't attack us in the first place because women and children in Mexico aren't being starved and butchered by Americans like Palestinians are by Israelis! You want analogies? Here's one for you -- try looking at the similarites between the Hamas Resistance in Gaza and the Jewish Resistance in Warsaw!" And the next thing I knew we were shouting at each other and now I am minus one friend.

    Then I talked with a priest. "When I was in the Holy Land 35 years ago," he told me, "I saw a parade of amputees and men on crutches and wearing Israeli Defense Force uniforms. They were all veterans of the Six-Day War and were marching off to the Knesset to beg their parliamentarians to make peace with Egypt. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli leadership at that time solemnly announced that these very same veterans who had made such obvious sacrifices for their country were 'anti-Semitic'. That's when I began to realize that there was more than one side to this story. But. Whenever I mention to anyone that the Palestinians might have a case for protesting, people get very angry with me." Well. If the pro-Israel faction of America can get angry even at a PRIEST for looking at both sides of the story, then obviously my own hopes of avoiding conflict over this subject are toast.

    And I also got in such a terrible fight recently with a Jewish friend over a simple MENTION of the WORD Gaza -- that she screamed at me for twenty minutes and even accused me of trying to steal her husband. What? Who me?

    And since this assault on Gaza has begun, suddenly people who have been reading my blog for years now say that they will never read it again if I don't lighten up on Israel. Hey, I love Israel. I just don't love the Israeli neo-cons who have stolen the hearts, minds and money of the Israeli people -- much in the same way that Bush and Cheney stole America's hearts and minds (and its votes and its money).

    So. The "war" in Israel and Palestine has been going on now for 61 long hard years. That's longer than almost any modern war that I know of. Even the Colombian civil war has only been going on for 40 years. Well, maybe the war over Kashmir might be longer. But still and all, 61 years is a freaking long time to burden the rest of the world with your squabbles.

    And now this long and drawn-out Israeli and Palestinian "war" has come home to America. Americans have all but started coming to blows themselves on this subject as the battle over who is wrong and who is right rages from block to block, street to street. "Israel is acting like Nazi Germany and torturing Palestinians, starving them, trapping them in concentration camps and slaughtering women and children!" cries one side.

    "They are shooting rockets at Israel!" cries the other.

    It's not as if we Americans aren't already torn apart by the issues of abortion, gay rights and whether or not Britney should go back with Kevin! Now we gotta deal with this too? Hey, here's an idea. Israel and Palestine, divide your freaking country up along the 1967 Green Line -- so Americans can go back to slugging it out about more important things like whether or not Bush should go to jail.

    Israel and Palestine, it's been 61 long freaking years. Get over it. Go to your corners. You got that Green Line. Use it. Go away and let us Americans get back to arguing about if Obama should bail out Wall Street or not, or if Jennifer Anniston still has a crush on Brad Pitt.

    Of course I would love to see an end to bloodshed in the Holy Land, but I would also appreciate being able to go back to speaking to my friends once again.