Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Israel/Palestine: Peace Is Locked in a Closet of Denial

Palm Beach Gardens, May 30, 2007


Israel/Palestine: Peace Is Locked in a Closet of Moral Denial


When refugee host-regimes like Lebanon, Syria or Jordan face intense political pressures they tend to displace their anger on the marginalized communities. The confrontation between the Lebanese army and the pseudo-Islamic militants has focused attention on the 350,000 Palestinian refugees in the country. As Lebanon faces its third political crisis in ten months the Palestinian community may become a scapegoat in this troubled country.

However, I wonder how extreme elements like Fatah-al-Islam emerge to “defend” Palestine with such cruel irrationality? As usual, it is often helpless civilians who pay the heaviest price for counterproductive rebellion. Unacceptable political resistance detracts from international compassion for Palestinians.

Many friends here in Florida have asked me about my family visit to Lebanon this month. On learning about my visit, Steve asked about the violence in Lebanon’s refugee camps: “Who are these refugees?”

I answered, “My friend, these Palestinians are the people who lost their homes in one of the Arab-Israeli wars, either in 1948, or in the second war in 1967”. Steve commented, “I thought these were Lebanese refugees from last summer’s war between Hezbollah and Israel”. I did not convey any surprise.

He then wanted to know why the Palestinian refugees were still living in camps after several decades of dispossession. I explained that as long as they were not able to return to Palestine, the refugees did not want to live outside their camps in the host countries. The majority wanted to live as homogeneous communities in order to retain their memories and their hopes to return to their homeland. In fact, the Palestinians have always expected to return to Palestine and had never thought that their land would be taken away from them indefinitely.

Steve innocently remarked, “But isn’t it unreasonable for the Palestinians to hold on to their dreams to return for so long?” I asked him rhetorically, “Have the Jewish communities forfeited their claims to Eretz Israel after over two thousand years of Diaspora?” He gestured in the negative.

At this point, Steve seemed unsure of where this conversation was going. After an anxious moment of silence he expressed a classic objection: “The Arabs should not blame the West for the Palestinian situation.”



Here I got defensive; I reminded him that for centuries the Jews had been persecuted by the Europeans, not by the Arabs. The persecution that culminated in the Holocaust was a major reason for the Western Allies’ pledging to the Jews a homeland in historic Palestine. At the time only about ten per cent of the population was Jewish. The Western governments did not compensate the Jews for their global suffering with Western assets. The Europeans paid for their moral crimes of discrimination and persecution of the Jews with Arab land and resources – by giving away the larger part of what was historic Palestine.

I continued my “lecture” to poor Steve: Furthermore, many Palestinians hold Washington partially responsible for their current situation. In 1967, with much US support, Israel won the second war against the Arabs and expanded its occupation of Israeli land into the Occupied Territories. Since the 1967 occupation, the US has been a staunch ally and a major funding partner of the Jewish state.

I knew our conversation was coming to an end as Steve grew more uncomfortable with my criticism of America’s support of Israel. He did ask one more question:
“Do you blame the West and the Jews, but forget about the Arab’s mismanagement of the Palestinian cause?”

“You have posed a fair question, Steve. All parties must assume their fair share of responsibility to be liberated from the travesty of Palestinian Diaspora and the oppressive occupation.” At this moment, I thought of the well-known biblical verse, John 8, 32: “Ye will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. In the context of the Middle East cpnflict, these biblical words mean to me that all the accomplices must confess their role in the Palestinian crisis.

For the parties involved in this crisis, speaking the truth would lead to a collective moral catharsis. No single party must take all the blame. If the guilt associated with displacing Palestinians is placed on the Jewish community alone it would be counter productive and too much to bear. Similarly, if the guilt is put on the Arabs for exploiting the Palestinian cause, it would be unjust and too much to process. And finally, if the West, alone, is accused of the crime of orchestrating the displacement of the Palestinians, it would be unfair and too intense to assume.

Relief from the suppressed moral burden would facilitate political problem-solving in the Middle East conflict. Such an authentic encounter with the truth would lead to fair sharing of the responsibility of empowering the Palestinians politically and humanely. Peace in the Middle East has, for too long, been locked in a closet of denial and fear. To avoid the overburden of full responsibility, until now, no party has been ready to assume any moral responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy.

What Steve conveyed in his innocent conversation about Palestine is standard perspective in American society today. As groups like Fatah-al-Islam assume responsibility for the defense of Palestine, albeit illegitimately, they make it hard for folks like Steve to gain insight, much less sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Main summary point of your post, wihch I will agree with is: as long as one chooses one specific aspect of the truth in order to support one possible type of resolution to this unending tragedy, one is part of the problem, not the solution. I don't know what your interest in religion and politics is (I stumbled on your blog) but in terms of the Christian communities' approach, the camps have chosen their truth. "Christian Zionists" (often more fundamentalist) are of course not interested in the truth about Palestinian history, heritage and identity. Often more "liberal Christians" who stand for international law, human rights and oppose colonialism care not to look too closely at the historical, human and social driving forces behind Zionism. Your conclusion seems to be that a political solution should start from a truthful recognition that there is not a clear-cut way to assign blame and resolve injustice without creating more of it. Of course, the problem is when some groups continue to refuse seeing their own responsibility and even simply what happened. But accepting the truth without using it as a weapon might be a first step. At least people of faith and integrity should accept this. [I don't have a blog. my email is bobblueberryATyahoo.com]

6:50 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

ray ban outlet, prada handbags, tory burch outlet online, christian louboutin, michael kors outlet online, coach purses, coach outlet, christian louboutin outlet, kate spade outlet, burberry outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp outlet, nike free, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet store, jordan shoes, red bottom shoes, louis vuitton outlet online, burberry outlet online, longchamp outlet online, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton handbags, oakley vault, oakley sunglasses, gucci handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, kate spade outlet online, nike air max, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, nike outlet, nike air max, true religion, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp handbags, louis vuitton outlet, coach outlet store online, michael kors handbags, tiffany jewelry

10:47 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

vans pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, air max pas cher, longchamp, louis vuitton pas cher, converse pas cher, hollister, nike free pas cher, nike roshe, nike air max, mulberry, louis vuitton uk, ralph lauren, michael kors canada, air jordan, air max, chaussure louboutin, tn pas cher, lacoste pas cher, true religion jeans, true religion outlet, barbour, sac louis vuitton, ralph lauren pas cher, oakley pas cher, new balance pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, burberry pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban uk, hermes pas cher, north face pas cher, longchamp pas cher, hollister, nike roshe run, north face, louis vuitton, timberland, nike air force, lululemon, sac vanessa bruno, nike free, guess pas cher, ray ban pas cher, scarpe hogan, sac michael kors

10:49 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, soccer shoes, soccer jerseys, canada goose outlet, insanity workout, canada goose, p90x workout, abercrombie and fitch, longchamp, nfl jerseys, ugg soldes, instyler ionic styler, giuseppe zanotti, canada goose outlet, reebok shoes, ghd, herve leger, nike huarache, ugg outlet, bottega veneta, jimmy choo shoes, celine handbags, ferragamo shoes, ugg, canada goose outlet, babyliss, mcm handbags, uggs outlet, asics shoes, north face jackets, lululemon outlet, north face jackets, hollister, marc jacobs outlet, replica watches, valentino shoes, uggs on sale, birkin bag, uggs outlet, nike roshe, vans outlet, chi flat iron, new balance outlet, nike trainers, beats headphones, ugg boots, mont blanc pens, ugg boots

10:50 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler outlet, wedding dress, supra shoes, uggs canada, louboutin, coach outlet, canada goose, air max, ugg, lancel, moncler, converse, moncler outlet, louis vuitton canada, thomas sabo uk, moncler, pandora charms, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, links of london uk, swarovski uk, replica watches, juicy couture outlet, moncler, nike air max, swarovski jewelry, timberland shoes, montre femme, hollister, oakley, moncler, hollister clothing, ray ban, hollister canada, pandora uk, vans, pandora jewelry, baseball bats, ralph lauren, gucci, parajumpers outlet, converse shoes, moncler, canada goose pas cher, iphone 6 case, karen millen, canada goose, toms outlet

10:51 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

burberry outlet, nike free, oakley sunglasses wholesale, gucci handbags, longchamp outlet, replica watches, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin uk, ugg boots, nike air max, polo ralph lauren outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade outlet, tiffany jewelry, michael kors outlet, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada handbags, christian louboutin shoes, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin, jordan shoes, polo outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, burberry handbags, christian louboutin outlet, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet online, longchamp outlet, uggs on sale, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet store, tiffany and co, prada outlet, ugg boots, chanel handbags, uggs outlet, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, replica watches

12:35 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

michael kors, converse pas cher, new balance, north face uk, true religion outlet, nike roshe, sac hermes, nike tn, true religion jeans, timberland pas cher, vans pas cher, michael kors outlet, mulberry uk, coach purses, nike roshe run uk, nike free uk, lululemon canada, michael kors pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, oakley pas cher, nike air max, polo lacoste, polo ralph lauren, nike air max uk, abercrombie and fitch uk, hollister uk, nike free run, longchamp pas cher, north face, hollister pas cher, hogan outlet, true religion outlet, ralph lauren uk, michael kors, jordan pas cher, air max, sac vanessa bruno, guess pas cher, nike air max uk, kate spade, louboutin pas cher, ray ban uk, ray ban pas cher, burberry pas cher, coach outlet, nike air force, coach outlet store online, sac longchamp pas cher, coach outlet, true religion outlet

12:40 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

vans, ralph lauren, giuseppe zanotti outlet, nike roshe run, ray ban, p90x workout, herve leger, asics running shoes, nike air max, timberland boots, ghd hair, reebok outlet, new balance shoes, north face outlet, iphone 6 cases, mac cosmetics, wedding dresses, nike trainers uk, converse outlet, celine handbags, lululemon, hollister clothing, soccer jerseys, instyler, longchamp uk, converse, soccer shoes, babyliss, insanity workout, beats by dre, gucci, north face outlet, vans outlet, abercrombie and fitch, hermes belt, ferragamo shoes, hollister, bottega veneta, nike huaraches, nike air max, louboutin, jimmy choo outlet, valentino shoes, baseball bats, nfl jerseys, chi flat iron, oakley, mcm handbags, hollister, mont blanc pens

12:45 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

karen millen uk, doudoune moncler, canada goose, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, moncler, moncler, replica watches, pandora uk, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, ugg uk, coach outlet, michael kors handbags, canada goose outlet, moncler, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg, canada goose outlet, marc jacobs, pandora jewelry, lancel, wedding dresses, moncler, moncler outlet, links of london, moncler outlet, barbour uk, canada goose outlet, canada goose uk, doke gabbana, michael kors outlet, barbour, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, canada goose, supra shoes, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, canada goose jackets, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, swarovski, hollister, toms shoes, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, pandora jewelry, ugg pas cher, thomas sabo, moncler uk, montre pas cher

12:50 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

karen millen uk, doudoune moncler, canada goose, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, moncler, moncler, replica watches, pandora uk, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, ugg uk, coach outlet, michael kors handbags, canada goose outlet, moncler, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg, canada goose outlet, marc jacobs, pandora jewelry, lancel, wedding dresses, moncler, moncler outlet, links of london, moncler outlet, barbour uk, canada goose outlet, canada goose uk, doke gabbana, michael kors outlet, barbour, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, canada goose, supra shoes, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, canada goose jackets, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, swarovski, hollister, toms shoes, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, pandora jewelry, ugg pas cher, thomas sabo, moncler uk, montre pas cher

12:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home