The following paragraphs were written in a frenzie, as a response to a Facebook post by a friend of mine which need not be reproduced here, but which essentially claimed that if Islam didn’t exist, none in Gaza would have been shot last night. Feel free to state your opinion, ask me to clarify or point ot where I’m just blatantly wrong.
I’m sorry, but this has just become so incredibly frustrating because certain arguments in here (not really by you, ?????, you’re provocative as always, but you know I love that about our discussions because you always still know what you’re talking about) are literally just repetitions of the most blatant Isreali state propaganda and as such not an intellectual dispute anymore, but just the clash of facts and a fantasy construct that doesn’t care about facts, from which there can never come anything good …
But alright, let me try.
First of all, Israel is Jewish, not Christian, thank you for pointing that out! Even though they’re officially a secular democracy and have a few Christian citizens, Jewish religious leaders have a lot of actual power in its politics, their currently ruling party under Benjamin Netanyahu has openly declared to strive for a monoreligious state, and in fact, Israel was founded upon the very wish to give Jews a nation of their own. This is nothing for or against Judaism, it’s just a statement of historical facts that play an essential role in that conflict.
Secondly, the Palestinian issue has nothing to do with radical Islam! Of course religion is instrumentalized in it, as it is in all armed conflicts around the word, by foreign powers who want to expand their spheres of influence (primarily Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, even though these countries generally hate each other more than actual Israel), but it’s, if anything, a tool in the conflict, not the root of it. When Israel was founded in 1948, the colonial powers Great Britain and France assigned it that patch of land without caring one bit about the people who already lived there, the Palestinians, as a consequence of which thousands of them were expelled from their ancestral homes to make room for European Jewish settlers. Now, that has been a long time ago and should long be yesterday’s rain, it’s no justification for blowing people up on either side … But Israel has been expanding ever since, sometimes subtly and sometimes through open warfare, constantly encouraging its citizens beyond established borders and then claiming that land as part of the country, depriving Palestinians of soil, water and economic opportunities. In turn, some radical Palestinians have taken to armed defense and terrorism (the Hamas being one such group), which then the Israeli military has used to imprison and kill Palestinian targets, which of course ignited even more hatred among the Palestinians, which justified even more military strikes – a cycle of violence as it is always bound to happen! Of course neither side is blameless, both have broken laws and killed civilians on the other side, but if somebody acts as if the Israelis were angels and the Palestinians monsters who wouldn’t let them live in peace, that’s so blindly cynical I don’t even know what to say. You might as well claim that Native Americans were to blame for what happened to them because they wouldn’t let white settlers live in peace (that part of history is a really good analogy for the situation in Palestine right now actually, just with much less foreign meddling than we have nowadays).
The facts are that, in spite of there being a lot of atheists and highly educated people living in Israel, religion has an astounding influence on their politics, combined with a craving for unchallenged hegemony because yes, the surrounding countries do believe Israel should never have been founded in the first place. This why they react so violently against any form of Palestinian protest or even just any kind of critique on their country globally. They’re a mix of paranoia, religious fanatism and a rightful hate about past terrorist attacks, whereas the Palestinians are ignited by crippling poverty, extremist groups and rightful hate about the theft or their homeland.
Jerusalem, and actually the country as a whole, is sacred to all three major religions and that area. None of them wants to destroy it, each of them would prefer to have it entirely to themselves, and with Israel being by far the strongest military power in the region, they are the only ones actually able to claim at the moment and keep the others out. Originally, in an attempt to negotiate the conflict, the UN declared it a shared city so their would be hope for peace at some point, but Israel never accepted that decision and now a certain man-child of a President has decided it would be a good idea to throw the whole diplomatic clout of the United States behind Israel’s claim that Jerusalem should belong to them alone. This is why the Palestinians were protesting – on their own land, non-violently to the most part, and why Israel nevertheless panicked and killed more than 50 of their civilians.
No side in this is blameless. Both have a right to live in peace, and both don’t respect that right in the other, both have killed for decades, and on both sides civilians have died that never touched a weapon in their lives. The reality we live in is just that Israel is at the moment incomparably more powerful, owns the majority of the wealth in the Middle East and has a much larger death toll on their hands. I believe that we can, should have a discussion about how much scrutiny they actually deserve, how we need to differentiate between Jews, Israeli citizens and Israel’s government, how justified their fear is and how hypocritical the outrage in Europe and America may be about a problem they are originally responsible for, but if somebody simply declares them saints and implies that there could be a petty, singular reason for perhaps the most complicated international conflict of the 20thcentury, that frankly gives me the chills.