Sorry, folks - but there are a few issues to clear up. I received a number of comments on the Israel post the other day (some of which were too rude to publish in the comments section) - the gist of them being that
- I'm a self-hating Jew (predicted that one!)
- As an American Jew, what Israel does is none of my business.
- I'm an unrealistic peacenik who essentially wants to stick daisies in gun barrels and scrawl peace signs on Katyusha rockets.
I would like to agree that Israel's actions are none of my business, but it isn't true. When American Jews see our gov't making poor policy decisions based on its friendship with Israel, decisions that jeopardize our relations with other important allies, we need to speak up. When we see Israel committing (or, at best, allowing) humanitarian crimes in the name of Jewish security, we have a responsibility to say something. Also, Israel's actions are only serving to increase anti-Semitism around the world.
(and, yes, I am aware that there are people who would be anti-Semitic anyway - I'm not dumb, I don't need to see the vile videos that extremists post on YouTube, thanks very much)
Finally, as I stated in my previous post, the memories of my ancestors who died in the Holocaust are being desecrated when Israeli Jews, using the Holocaust as an excuse, treat Palestinians as less than human.
There is a lot of dissent within Israel itself on Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza. So we American Jews aren't just being naive about the situation "on the ground" when we voice our disapproval over blockades, or invasions, or whatever. We are not alone in observing that Israel is in a reactive mode as far as its foreign policy is concerned. [Essentially, if HAMAS does this, then Israel does that. Oh, and Israel builds a wall to keep people out. If that isn't an admission of failure, I don't know what is.] I would go so far as to say that Israel's only long-term policy is to keep building in the West Bank and finally push the Palestinians out. I think Israelis deserve leaders that can come up with something better than that. Many Israelis feel that way, also.
I am not saying that if Israel changes its behavior, the terrorists will stop attacking (as one commenter implied). I am saying that Israel's current approach is not working and is even counter-productive. Keeping Palestinian populations impoverished and ripe for terrorist recruitment; building new settlements in disputed areas while negotiations on the fate of those areas are ongoing; attacking (not just boarding, but attacking) ships that belong to an ally of yours - these sort of actions are NOT HELPING end the cycle of violence. As one of my commenters pointed out, "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity." The Israeli/Palestinian situation has become officially insane.
If you think about it, both the Israeli gov't and HAMAS benefit from having a downtrodden, impoverished Gazan population. HAMAS can point to it and say, "Look how awful Israel is!" And Israel can point to it and say, "Look at how HAMAS convinces these people to be terrorists! We can't possibly make a deal with them." Until someone in power is willing to stop this game, it will continue. And people on both sides will suffer.
Israel's actions over the past 40 years have helped the extremists to win, both in its own gov't and in the Palestinian one(s). Israelis need to elect people who can act with an eye to the future, not to the past; people who accept that the Palestinians are not going to go away; people who understand that the fates of these 2 peoples are irrevocably intertwined. A wall is not the answer. Military force is not policy. And have no doubt, the problem here is policy.
Israelis need a leader with a real vision for the future. I sure hope you get one. We finally did.
[That last link up there is a good one, by Queen Rania of Jordan, a long-time ally of Israel.]
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