Politics

Settlers & green vs. red lines

As someone who lives far away in the Far-East, and amongst ‘Goyim’, I am often asked by people about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As one of those who care to know what’s going on there on a daily basis, it is a shock to realize just how confusingly absurd, and ferociously anachronistic the whole story seems to outsiders.
If I take the painstaking effort required to try and explain ‘who is against who’ and why are they fighting, the reply is often “Why can’t they just build the wall on the green line, and be done with it?”
At which point I try to explain who the settlers are, and why etc. etc.
And always, I sheepishly discover that I sound stupid. Does not matter how mythological I get (persecution, the need to be strong, visions of democracy amongst 100 Million Arabs), the story simply does not hold water.
That is why it was refreshing to read Bradley Burston’s latest blog entry on Haaretz.
Not that I agree with convergence, I think we should get out of there. Period. But that is my opinion. I’m aware others have different opinions. The point is that some of them are saner.
Staying in the territories based on biblical decrees of ownership while dehumanizing millions of people; sending your children to school in armored buses while your army shoots at others’ children when they try to go to school themselves – Insane. Pulling out from a dead-end situation – Sane. Not the best solution, and not the most honest or just, but in the right direction.
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” So said the local prophet, very long time ago (The Buddha). It seems to connect beautifully with the fact the whole world is a narrow bridge, and the main principle is not to be afraid.
No security argument can justify the territories. The difference between 30 km, and 60 km, when it comes to modern warfare, is negligent.
Humongous walls are not exactly my preferred view, but if they are built in the right place, where we have no argument, legal or otherwise with neighbors and the world, they could well be the pesek-zman both sides need to recover and forgive. That means not building it in the most strategic way, or the most land-greedy, but the most humanistic. Cutting olive groves give us no security, and ferments more than just olive-oil…
The biggest mistake the Palestinians have made is not to adopt Ahimsa, which is the Sanskrit term for non-violence in the Yogi code. Had they done that, no Israeli government could have withstood the pressure to compromise. Arafat was no Gandhi, who said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. But where are our wise elders?
Our biggest mistake is that we rely on Palestinian ignorance and anger. The world says NO to Hamas. What sort of a resounding YES would it say to sincere efforts by the occupying side to withdraw? What sort of results would we get if we blocked their tax repayments, and then send them enough food and medicine to ensure a modicum of decency?
But who am I kidding? An Israeli leader, with the balls to challenge the entrenched and devastating model of 21st century Sabre; the one who get the play the Chosen One, the victim, AND the war hero all at the same time.
This is too heady a mix to give up for the humility of the peacemaker, and thus we are ‘chosen’ for struggle long due to move into reconciliatory phase.

12 thoughts on “Settlers & green vs. red lines

  1. You don’t get it do you? The palestinians believe, more than you do, that it is THEIR land. And you’re not contradicting them.
    If you don’t believe that Israel is your land, leave, if you do, take it.
    But this half baked attempt at compromise will get you nowhere.
    Imagine someone robbed my house and the thief then came to me and said, I will give you the couch and stereo if you don’t go to the police.
    Your problem is that you’re not sure whether you’re the thief or the owner. Cure yourself of this schizofrenia before more people, Jews and arabs, die.

  2. Thank you ‘formermuslim,’ I agree. It reminds me of something I have been saying more and more stridently lately concerning our situation here, that peace will come not through compromise or understanding, but rather–as in most truly intractable conflicts–by the utter victory of one side over the other. May we merit for Hashem to grant the Jewish people and nation victory over our enemies, and safety and security in our eternal homeland, soon and in our days.

    B’ahavat Yisrael, from the center of the universe (Jerusalem)

  3. And always, I sheepishly discover that I sound stupid. Does not matter how mythological I get (persecution, the need to be strong, visions of democracy amongst 100 Million Arabs), the story simply does not hold water.
    Well, no: a more honest way of saying this is that your telling does not hold water. Obviously there are many people who believe strongly. There are two possibilities. Either they are idiots. Or their sincerely held belief makes sense in some way or another, and you are just not getting it.
    As one of those who care to know what’s going on there on a daily basis, it is a shock to realize just how confusingly absurd, and ferociously anachronistic the whole story seems to outsiders.
    Maybe that’s the difficulty. Your impression seems to be that your Ashkenazi-American upbringing makes you something other than an “outsider” to what’s happening thousands of kilometres away, in a community with which you are not connected, in a language you do not understand. The question is, why?
    In other words, is there not a way that you can begin with a good-faith attempt to understand, rather than an assumption that you alraedy know what is going on and need only relay it to others?

  4. “The biggest mistake the Palestinians have made is not to adopt Ahimsa, which is the Sanskrit term for non-violence in the Yogi code. Had they done that, no Israeli government could have withstood the pressure to compromise.”
    I can forgive the Palestinians for making us steal their land. I can forgive them for making us compel 60 of their women to give birth at checkpoints. but i will never forgive them for making us shoot and kill 10 of their non-violent wall protestors (maybe some threw rocks!! what could we do?!?).

  5. Sigh,
    Dreaming:
    “The palestinians believe, more than you do, that it is THEIR land. And you’re not contradicting them.”
    Of course, how silly of me. And of the Palestinians. It is just a belief, and as soon as we explain this to them, they will say sorry and go away. What a relief!
    Or better still, fantasizing:
    “…by the utter victory of one side over the other. May we merit for Hashem to grant the Jewish people and nation victory over our enemies, and safety and security in our eternal homeland, soon and in our days.”
    Obviously we cannot do it, or we would have done it by now. And as far as I’m aware, there is not a single case in history where a guerilla war for independence was utterly won by the other side. I am too insignificant to comment on Hashem’s decision making process, but it seems a little slow on this one.
    And the best – speculating, assuming, guesstimating till the cows come home:
    “Your impression seems to be that your Ashkenazi-American upbringing makes you something other than an “outsider” to what’s happening thousands of kilometres away, in a community with which you are not connected, in a language you do not understand. The question is, why?”
    Yes, the question is why indeed. Why do you think I am this person whom you conjured in your wild imagination? And is that an indication of your version of “begin with a good-faith attempt to understand what’s going on”?. I am mostly (but not just) Ashkenazi indeed, but that is as far as your comment has any resemblance to reality. Makes me wonder what is your perception of Arabs?
    Sorry guys, but YOU don’t get it. The point is not whether the Palestinians are right or wrong, or if military might is the only way to resolve it. They will not go away. And there is nothing that will change that. There are too many of them to ignore. They want to live in the same area, and like it or not, they have a case for at least as much right for it as we do. This is not a story of someone robbing my house. Rather, it is a case of two tenants who live in the same apartment right here and right now, and neither is able to kick the other out. We can keep bleeding each forever and a day, or we can learn to compromise, first by demarcating the boundaries with a sensible fairness, and later by agreeing on who is using the bathroom at what time, and how many shelves each have in the fridge. Like it or not, we are brothers and sisters in destiny. If you think your army and/or your G-d will solve the problem, you are nothing but a fool. Peace does not come by brandishing swords or thumping bibles, but by fellows human beings recognize their sameness, and being brave enough not to be afraid on the narrow bridge.
    Xisnotx – tongue in cheek? When there will be 100,000 by those wall, you will see the power of non-violent protest…

  6. “Xisnotx – tongue in cheek?”
    i would do such a thing?
    “When there will be 100,000 by those wall, you will see the power of non-violent protest…”
    i totally agree with you, and certainly, we are the ones to be the judge of that. we’ve definitely got the moral authority to tell them how to do non-violence right. they should totally be asking us for advice on how to liberate themselves.
    I’d like to see how many we could gather by a wall if we were locked into the cages we are locking them into, and choked off by checkpoints.
    wiesglas was right — we should wait until they turn into finns. until then, mo’ betta shootin’ and cryin’!

  7. “Obviously we cannot do it, or we would have done it by now. And as far as I’m aware, there is not a single case in history where a guerilla war for independence was utterly won by the other side.”
    No Israel can do it, but is too nice. Doing it would be very bloody and kill lots of civilians.
    “we can learn to compromise, first by demarcating the boundaries with a sensible fairness, and later by agreeing on who is using the bathroom at what time, and how many shelves each have in the fridge.”
    The problem is the only people who sincerely want to do that are the Israelis. I saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak on Sunday at the PEN Festival, and she put it very well (talking aobut Europe, but it applies): “The Islamists say we want to kill you and rule you. The Europeans say, can we sit down and talk about the fact that you want to kill and rule me?” Islamism was always a factor in Palestinian thinking has has thoroughly permeated it now (one reason the Palestinin Christians have been leaving). They want the whole house.
    I know you have all these dialogue groups with nice Palestinians. I support some Palestinians. those folks are not running things over there. Salam Fayyad the PA Finance Minister, and Hanan Ashrawi, both relatively moderate secular Palestinians well-known to the nation, formed a political party. They got about 1% of the vote.
    Talking to people who want to kill you is contradicted by the wisdom of our sages, who were very realistic guys: “If someone arises to kill you, kill them first.” The problem is, how do you know they are trying to kill you? You don’t want to fire on innocent people. Well, we have plenty of evidence dating back 50 years that the people who have always run the PA and its predecessors want to kill us. Even so, nice Israel tries to only kill the individuals who commit the crimes.
    As for women giving birth at check-points: the fence has saved untold lives. There are still several suicide bomber attempts per day. The ball is in the Pals’ court. End of discussion.
    On the Green Line: it is a temporary armistice line, flatly contradicted by R 242, which says Israel has a right to secure and defensible borders. If there is a chance for real peace, I would support a land-swap, but not the Green line.

  8. komai :” This is not a story of someone robbing my house. Rather, it is a case of two tenants who live in the same apartment right here and right now, and neither is able to kick the other out. ”
    That’s how YOU see it, the pals see it diferently. And from your post I gather that you don’t see a big role for G-d in world affairs. (except when it comes to immigrant rights I assume)
    In that case I have bad news for you komai. Gentiles like me are few and far between. If you want to survive in this world you need to cling to you G-d. Because realistically, with one billion hostile muslims and another billion ambivalent christians, you wouldn’t stand a chance.
    In closing:(notice the freshness of these words, after 3000 years!)
    You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. 20 (Deuteronomy 7:17-20)

  9. Yehudit:
    “As for women giving birth at check-points: the fence has saved untold lives. There are still several suicide bomber attempts per day. The ball is in the Pals’ court. End of discussion.”
    read the following from a palestinian hydrologist, and tell me if you still think women giving birth at checkpoints makes Israel more secure:
    Two days ago I left my work in Nablus at three p.m, I reached Beit Iba at 3:20 and like most of times there are two lines, one for young males and the other for women and elderly people (elderly is a flexible term: one day means a doctor or disable or above forty or fifty, and next day it is according to the soldier mode and with no respect to age or profession or case). I found my self standing in a long line of ladies and elderly!, and it took me around one and half our to reach the two soldiers who are checking this line (one checks and the other snaps).
    Then I noticed a lady looks pregnant in the last month and carrying another kid 2-3 years old sleeping on her hands. She came directly to the soldiers from a narrow passage specially for people entering to Nablus . She was very tiered and exhausted, and asking the soldier “please let me pass, I was waiting for a long time in the line and see I’m so tired see; here is the identity” The soldier shouted on her go back no way, then another old man came through the same way asking for similar help. The soldier start to talk with the old man, then I asked the lady “come beside me I will talk to him” The soldier finished with the old man and pushed him back to the line. He shouted on her “I told you go back” then I said to him “look I told her to come beside me, and don’t you see she may be nine months pregnant and carrying her kid also? look she will fall down in any moment like another lady few minutes ago” the soldier said “give me your identity” I thought he wants to check me, but then I noticed he wants to teach me a lesson how to listen and obey the orders and decisions. He said “I’m the commander here and the one who decides not you”. “ I told him its okay, I am asking you to help her” He said “you also go back to the young’s line you are forty five not fifty (I think he is not good in mathematics, because I am 40). “I told him, but today you let 45 also, I think you want to punish me”
    (The soldier or the commander speaks good English). He said “I’m the commander who decides (I think he is around 22 -23 years old) take your ID or I keep it”. I took the ID, and I told him “ still I don’t know my mistake, (I was thinking of the woman beside me) I will go but try to help this lady” Then he said “she will also go back” I stepped to go back then I told him “remember one day you were in your mother’s womb or sleeping on her hands, help your mother” then I walked back to the end of line, and when I turned my face I saw the lady following me while she is crying, exhausted and desperate.
    I don’t know the lady, and I couldn’t do any thing for her. All I know that she is a mother and pregnant and I see her like any mother in this world. I feel sorry for this lady and for his mother too. Then I have to start again my chances with the young’s lines through the rotating gates. Finally, I reached my village at 7:30 p.m, back to my home full of sadness and waiting tomorrow to start again a new tormenting travel.

  10. Yehudit Shalom
    Had a bit of a cyber stroll in your website. I am still trying to get my head around ‘Hawkish Liberal Jewish’ bit, but I guess conflicting narratives is an integral (!) part of the Jewish identity. Like the old joke about two Jews with three different opinions…
    I am not sure what to say – reading your comment, and some of your posts, I get a sense of a genuine care for truth and liberty and noble values. That’s great, and would be wholly authentic were it not for the fact you also seem to hold the bizarre notion that people who can be fingered as an ethnic group then merit collective judgment as to their personalities, and that painful circumstances justify blanket ruthlessness at all costs. Are you serious when you say “No Israel can do it, but is too nice.” and “nice Israel tries to only kill the individuals who commit the crimes.”? When was the last time you had a look at the grim statistics that this conflict generates – NO ONE is nice when they hold a gun. And they, those NOT nice Palestinians, have a lot more dead kids to support that conclusion then we do.
    The Mosaic on your banner says ‘Shalom Al Yisrael’ but comes from a synagogue now amidst 1.3 Million people who will not go away. So what is your solution? To kill them all?! Thank G-d we are ‘nice’…
    I don’t know if you read Hebrew, but if you do, please go to http://www.hagada.org.il and read the recent articles from Deb Reich and Victoria Booch. OK – so this not a Hawkish site, but surely you could find some measure of humble compassion to their desperation in writing.
    “Ïnsanity” said Rita May Brown, “…is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Those sages you mention, those oh-so-realistic fellas – has it ever worked? Bar the odd 40 years here or there, did we ever get Shalom al Yisreal? Could it be that the old conscious of the ‘you are either with us or against us’ cannot solve the kind of problems we are facing?
    And last, formermuslim – sorry mate, but I find no freshness is some words about G-d and fear. To me, that is the anathema of what Spirit is about, and the biggest contributors to confusion and misery on this planet are people who use some texts to prove how they are so much more right about the way life is, or how it should not be lived, or who else is a sinner. G-d is one, and we are all interconnected through that miraculous spark of divinity that gives us the breath of life. ‘Good’ people and ‘bad’ people come from the same source, as are all those very many books we brandish in our puny and ignorant silliness. In the words of Martin Luther King: “we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we’ll perish together as fools…”.

  11. xisnotx
    Considering that women have hidden bombs under their blouses before, terrorists hidden in ambulances, etc., the answer is yes, checkpoints which make women have babies in a field save Israeli lives. The fact that a military checkpoint is not the nicest place to be, and that the power is sometimes wielded arbitrarily and to the detriment of innocent individuals does not change the fact that it stops bombs from getting from one side to the other. This may be an example of how/why Israel should organize checkpoints differently to expedite the passage of certain individuals (elderly, pregnant) but is hardly an argument against checkpoints.
    Komai
    “the biggest contributors to confusion and misery on this planet are people who use some texts to prove how they are so much more right about the way life is, or how it should not be lived, or who else is a sinner”
    It seems to me that both Nazism and Communism (which killed roughly equal numbers of innocent people) were both secular ideologies.. Being committed to a book–to use your terms–or not is not what makes people vicious or kind.

  12. I take it back, Eitan, you’re right. although, i do remember the IDF used to say blowing up suicide bombers’ homes had a deterrent effect — until they did a study and it revealed it had the opposite effect, and quit the practice (at least for a while, i think). but i agree, after 40 years of land theft, all we really need to do is make the occupation even more enlightened — we need to REALLY make it the most enlightened occupation in history, by the most moral and ethical army in the world (the only Jewish one!!), and then it will all work out.
    after all, we all know it’s not the occupation; it’s anti-Semitism!!
    here, this will cheer you up: IDF predicts endless war. let’s just keep stealing land, maybe that will fix the problem. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/711993.html

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