Reposted with permission. Part 5 of a 5 part series.
We often forget that the faces on the other side of the television screen have thoughts and feelings just like our own. We forget to think about the common threads of humanity between all living beings. I’m obviously no expert on the subject, having only spent several months in the Middle East and studying the situation now for four years. But the following contains different sorts of observations, analysis and conclusions I had reached, having traveled throughout the entirety of the West Bank, meeting hundreds of families along the way, and engaging in countless enlightening and telling conversations about the conflict, culture, and lifestyle.
A Future of Peace:
The peace plans have been watered down and frosted over. I’m a pessimist in this regard. Palestinians are extremely complicit with the situation; which is of course the result of 60 years of war and occupation. Palestinians are also extremely reliant on Israel, and they spin the wheels of their own oppression.
I hope for an economic intifada (uprising) rather than a violent one. Violence has only brought about harsher responses from the military. If it is going to be fought out, then the stronger of the two is going to win, which is obviously Israel. Even if Palestinians were to win, it would be national suicide due to their reliance on Israel for just about everything from the water they drink, to the electricity that lights their homes, to the monetary currency that they use. An economic uprising would set them on a path that they will be able to separate themselves from Israel, gain some sort of power, and then go to the negotiation table when they are on a fair playing level. As it stands, there is nothing Israel actually needs from the Palestinians, and therefore, there is no such thing as a real ‘compromise’ or ‘solution.’ Everything needed is in the hands of the Israelis.
Asking Israel for power is like a slave asking his master kindly to remove his shackles. I do not support violence in any way. I think it has proven a failure. But there is a way to go about liberation more strategically, as to take the power for themselves without sucking up to Israel and asking for it. Then they can move to the negotiation table once they have power.
Internal Conflict Within Myself:
I am connected to both Israel and Palestine in every way. I was raised in a Zionist community and arrived at my own conclusions totally independently. I have relatives in Israel. I even have relatives in settlements. My relatives migrated to Israel largely after having suffered at the hands of Europe. I cannot blame them. I blame the ones who made the ridiculously immoral decision of handing them someone else’s land. It would be like the United States handing control of Iraq to oppressed and starving people in Somalia or Sudan. No one coming from the Holocaust had the mental ability to understand the Palestinian suffering as a result of their move. I cannot blame those in my family who saw their own mother decapitated in Russian Pogroms.
But I do strongly and vocally stand with Palestine. I want a true solution to the conflict, and I’m interested in helping stop suffering on both sides. I visited Israeli cities bordering Gaza that are often victims of rocket attacks, and could not help but feel sympathetic for them as well. They practically have had to turn their cities into one massive bomb shelter, and have faced years of living in freight and horror. The children of Sderot and the children of Gaza would have a lot more in common than they think; one of which is obviously that their entire life has been stained by war, conflict, and trauma.
My parents are supportive of my political views after years of debate and often emotional argument. I have successfully awoken them to the reality in Palestine. Others were not so enthused. I have had a few people curse me out and threaten me. But a majority of people just thought I was absolutely insane. They were surprised when I returned in one piece. It has forced many of them to question their own beliefs. I’m happy to have people question anything. We are living in a world filled with deception, myths, conflict, and hate. The more we question, the more we learn. But sometimes, the more we learn, the more questions we have. And I suppose that is why fully understanding and trying to help the conflict in Palestine will be my life-long mission. After visiting the region, I only have more questions than answers.
The saddest thing:
-That I could leave while they are mostly stuck there.
-That I have an American passport while they have a Palestinian one.
-That I can go just about anywhere without a pre-approved visa, whereas they spend months waiting for a visa that they are unlikely to ever attain.
Honestly, far worse than bullets and bombs is sheer boredom and no hope for the future. Nothing is more a depressing thought to me, than the idea that most of my friends in Palestine will go on after studying double-majors in universities to either sit home unemployed or work crappy street-jobs. Most of them will stay in the refugee camps, hardly leave their city, let alone their country, and live the rest of their lives in utter boredom or resistance. No mother should ever expect her child to grow up and spend the rest of his life in prison.
A young girl asked her father how I was able to leave…imagine having to explain that to a child. It was my last night in the camp. That very same night, that young girl pulled her baby brother away from the door as she heard Israeli jeeps driving through the streets. Age 6 and she already knows the sounds of an Israeli jeep. No child anywhere on earth should know the sound of a military jeep’s tires.
May Allah (swt) reward us all and help the oppressed across the planet. May he grant them, as well as all of us, with patience, steadfastness, and faith. Ameen.