Tuesday, March 18, 2014

About the existence of Israel.

I don't agree with every policy enacted by Israel. I don't like it when Jewish settlers occupy disputed territory. It's as important for the Palestinians to have an independent state as it is for the Jews to have an independent state. Statehood for Palestinians is a crucial determinent to ending violence in that region, but it must be a state that recognizes the right of Israel to exist.

What has it meant to be Jewish throughout most of history? It has meant being hated. It has meant being vulnerable and without rights. It has meant being excluded, banished and subject to pogroms throughout the middle ages. Throughout Russia and Eastern Europe well into the modern age, being Jewish has meant being regarded as having a malignancy. The Holocaust was an eruption of anti-Jewish hatred without parallel. Despite this, Jewish people in Israel and all over the world have secured and maintain a vibrant and lively culture of intellectual pursuit and study. In their books of religious literature and practical lessons on how to live, the Jewish people have offered wisdom to all.

Since the establishment of Israel, Jews from throughout the world have had a country where they can go to escape penalty for being Jewish. That’s why I support Israel. It’s a democratic country with a free press. It’s a modern secular state. It has fought wars to defend itself, sure. It has captured Arab land. This captured land is a sticking point in peace negotiations and does contribute to violence. It is also a carrot Israel holds in its hands for peace.

Israeli leaders say they would return land in exchange for a settled peace with a Palestinian state. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says progress is being made in current peace negotiations.    

I frankly doubt most Arabs in the Middle East are now prepared to accept Israel’s right to exist. I've read so much venomous verbiage against Jews and Israel by prominent Arab and Muslim leaders. The roots of animosity between Arab and Jew supposedly go far back into the history of that region. According to Genesis, God gave the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham, i.e. the Jews. That's at the beginning of recorded history. It may be that's the pot where Jewish/Arab animosity first kindled.

But King David and King Solomon ruled a Jewish kingdom in that region. Rome centuries later made Judea a province. The Jewish claim to Israel can no more be rightfully rejected than the Palestinian claim to a state in the region.

There are instances of mutual accord between Jews and Palestinians. These instances are sometimes hampered by inequality. It is the Jews after all who have a state. “Putting oneself in the other person’s shoes” is an all too human stumbling block. Contact between Jews and Palestinians and collaborations which do occur in educational conferences or mutual business or environmental projects are bound to help alleviate tension.


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