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Thursday, June 23, 2011

terrorist of freedom fighter?

So this question frequently comes up (at least for me) since I live in an environment almost as biased toward Israel as Israel itself- maybe more- and I have very different feelings about the matter, having read a bit about the history and causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I was listening to the radio (podcast, since I'm hopelessly behind on my daily news fix) - an interfaith marriage piece about a Catholic and a Jew. I enjoyed it for the most part, but when the Catholic described her spouse's parent as a Jewish "pioneer" in Palestine, it struck me as odd. I mean, this person was probably a part of the gangs that, using weapons supplied by Jewish groups all over the world, massacred and cleaned out entire villages of its Palestinian residents and chased many of the rest out on the fear of such atrocities. If this Jewish pioneer wasn't in that group, he or she was almost certainly in the group that walked into (and took/stole as their own) houses that had been vacated only days, weeks or months before with shelves stocked with food and dishes still on the table as though their owners just left for a few hours! How could you move into a house that looked like someone had left in a hurry and thought the land had no people (land without people for people without a land myth) and it was ok for you to take it?? You have to have been lied to and been very naive or lying to yourself.

We freely talk of Jewish pioneers and the necessity and fundamental right of Israel's security in this country. When you describe Palestinians fighting for their rights as freedom fighters, people look at you as though you are a terrorist yourself because you have obviously just expressed support for terrorism. There have been many UN resolutions saying Palestinian refugees can go home (after '48), Israel has to stay in the '67 borders, Jerusalem is to be shared. All laws and conventions governing war and human rights say refugees can go home and the Occupying Power can't transfer its population to the territory it occupies, etc. Palestinians had a history of non-violent protest (general strikes, protests, etc) before the suicide bombing years and I'm happy to see a resurgence in the popularity of non-violent protest. I just wonder why it is ok for us to expect that after so much injustice that Palestinians would bow down before and kiss the feet of Israelis and Americans who offer pseudo-states, demilitarized entities and occupation enshrined in law? Why are Jews who wipe out villages of hundreds of people heroes and pioneers and a Palestinian who bombs a pizza parlor is without question a terrorist? Why would we expect Palestinians to lay down arms in the face of oppression and injustice when Americans fought the British over the same things? In a few short weeks we'll be celebrating this very thing!

I guess it boils down to the fact that the winner writes history (but I ask, should it?). Look at our Thanksgiving story. In school, we're basically taught through pictures and activities and such that pilgrims and indians sat at a giant picnic table with a cornucopia and a table crammed with food. Everyone ate, talked and had a blast. They taught us about growing corn and gave us seeds. We taught them how to wear our more civilized pilgrim outfits. And we all lived happily ever after. This is the story the winners write to make ourselves feel better. And then there is the truth of the matter...

And so all these thoughts from one sentence. Welcome to my world! :)

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