Karen, “I hope they give them a state”.
Me, “why do you think they should have a state?”.
Her, “because then we won’t have to fight with them anymore.”
I’ve been following the Arab Spring since @Sandmonkey first posted about Khaled Said’s vicious death at the hands of a brutal Egyptian police force. Sa’id was simply picked at random and beaten to death in an act that may have sparked the Egyptian Spring. I’ve been studying the opinions of the Arab elite online. I define them as the elite because they are educated, plugged in and have excellent English communication skills. But in so many cases, I am disappointed when I see the elite engaging in hysterical anti-Israel conspiracy theories and maintaining a closed mind when parroting classic Arab propaganda talking points. One blog in that category is @Zeinobia blog.
Last year I blogged about the dearth of English language Palestinian blogs written by Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza. There were plenty of Palestinian bloggers living elsewhere, but I was really interested in the opinions of people living the reality. Today there are many English language Palestinian bloggers and Tweeps. I follow some to try and better understand their view and why they hate us so much. I can’t help but take it personally when I see so much hate directed at me simply for being a citizen of Israel. They feel the same way when they read posts by extreme right wing Israelis and supporters.
Today, as the rift between Israeli and Palestinian seems wider than ever, our homegrown terror groups seem to be gaining strength and audacity. More than their aggression, I worry that like the Arabs, most Israelis find it hard to condemn their religious right against the “enemy”. This makes it impossible to view the situation from the POV of the Arabs. I use “Arabs” rather than Palestinians because it appears that the hatred towards Israel is held among Arabs, almost universally. Likewise, there are few Israelis, myself included, who can see the Palestinian side as clearly as leftist Israeli Tweep, @ibnezra.
The Ha’aretz article linked here just made me further aware of how much hate is being generated by each act. We can’t control what the other side does, but we should be able to control what we do. It’s scary to be an Israeli when the news reports that “a left-wing activist was apparently the latest “price tag” victim…The incident follows last week’s vandalism attack on an IDF base in the West Bank, in apparent revenge for the demolition of unauthorized Jewish construction in settlement outposts there.” If the extremists can target their own armed forces, there to protect them, then how can I not believe any other behavior attributed to them?
Needless to say, it’s embarrassing to be associated with Israelis who are reported to be responsible for “a marked rise in acts of violence against mosques and Palestinian property”. This behavior makes it impossible to believe denials and claims of self defense when the same settlers are suspected of unprovoked physical violence against Palestinians.
First we boycotted cottage cheese because the producers where charging too much, then we sat in tents to demonstrate against the high cost of housing in Israel, and the complete inability of the average salaried worker to own a decent home.
Soaring food prices and outrageous housing costs are problems in many countries. It seems like Israelis are ignoring the elephant in the room to make a big deal over economic issues that are affecting consumers worldwide.
The Arab Spring showed all in our region, that when people are oppressed by a dictatorship they will risk it all to fight for change and relative freedom. Look at the Syrians, braving live fire to take to the streets, and getting killed for their desire for freedom.
It is telling that Israel translated that into consumer activism, which while noble on it’s own, seems ludicrous in a region where the daily news reports on war, missiles, armies and military preparedness. Clearly we need to learn to deal with the primary issue facing our nation, and that is the Palestinian issue. I believe that Israelis aren’t engaging in that discussion expressly because they are afraid to address the real issues. It’s much easier to demonstrate against the government than it will be for us to engage each other in the real issue of final borders, Jerusalem, and most importantly, how to deal with extremists, ours as well as theirs. Those are the real issues facing Israel. Affordable housing is important, but not existential.
Egypt to permanently open Rafah crossing with Gaza on Saturday – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News
Looks like things will get real interesting, real fast. Maybe it will be a good thing for everyone. It will end both the recurring flotilla crises and the blockade complaints. If everything can come and go via Rafah, then Gaza can no longer complain that it lacks goods or anything it needs to succeed. “The Occupation” would no longer be an issue in terms of their day to day living standards. Of course, we do hope our partners in peace, the Egyptians, monitor their borders carefully to ensure no military contraband gets across. Tunnels can still be used for smuggling weapons and drugs.
Just when I get all optimistic about potential for peace with our Arab neighbors, and when the entire Arab world is using non violent demonstrations to achieve political goals, somehow they can’t seem to integrate the success of these non-violent approaches to their war with Israel.
I didn’t notice the creep, but yesterday in the elevator, my neighbor said, “Here we go again. It started with the massacre of a family in Itamar and continued with more than 50 rockets fired into Israel over the weekend. Yesterday it was clear that things wouldn’t return to normal when bus bombings, a symbol of the last Intifada, returned to Jerusalem.
A week ago I was posting about Palestinian unity. Before that, I wrote about how great it was to see the “Arab Street”, achieve political change in non-violent demonstrations. I expressed hope that this success would bring the Palestinians to a decision to try and achieve their national aspirations non-violently. Apparently not going to happen, this round, at least.
Twitter has given me insight into the mindset of many of the leaders of the currant Arab revolutions. Many are calling them Facebook or Internet revolutions because much of the planning support and especially the reporting from the actual scene of unfolding events is all taking place online, in real time.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the one feature that stood out to me, was the ability of the crowds in Egypt to maintain a non-violent stance in the face of police brutality. This model is now repeating itself in other Arab countries and in the Palestinian territories. Via Twitter, I read about plans for peaceful demonstrations in Gaza and Ramallah. While the demonstrators may have intended peaceful rallies, those in power had other ideas. In Gaza the ruling Hamas attacked demonstrators, while in Ramallah it was the Fatah/Palestinian Authority that used force against them.
What were they demonstrating about that so angered both Hamas and Fatah?
For unity. The Palestinians are tired of sectarianism and want to maintain a united front against Israel. Apparently neither Hamas nor Fatah appreciate this attempt at creating a unified Palestinian people.
Just think, if the Palestinians take the lessons learned in Egypt, and apply them against the Israel. True, demonstrations occur regularly at the border fence with Israel, but they are limited in scope and location. During Intifada II, there was one point where Hanan Ashrawi called on Palestinian women to march non violently. But her voice was drowned out in the series of suicide bombings that wracked Israel at the time. Palestinians seemed to honor martyrs much more than anyone trying a non-violent approach.
Now that they’ve seen the success of a popular revolution in Egypt, I think it more likely that they will adopt a similar method for regime change. In my opinion, Israel can have no real response to a non violent revolution and declaration of statehood. Palestinians have a window of opportunity that may not remain open for very long.
I’ve been searching for Palestinian blogs without much luck. Mostly, I’ve been disappointed when the Palestinians turn out to be living in Canada, the US or Europe. Although at least one Canadian Palestinian is a goldmine of fantastic content. If you haven’t read him, you really should take a look at Nizo’s blog. He has a unique viewpoint, but is hardly representative of Palestinian public opinion.
What I really want are blogs where I can read the opinions of Palestinians in the territories. So many people claim to speak for them, and so many others claim they know what the Palestinians think, so why bother reading? I want to read what they are saying, whether it is for public consumption (in English), or, more of a challenge, in Arabic (thank you Google Translator!). I want to know what the average, educated, Palestinians are saying. It interests me because we Jews have so many blogs spouting so many different opinions, I want to understand the similarly differing opinions among the Palestinians.
Imagine how happy I was to find THIS blog. Gazamom is Laila el-Haddad, a journalist and a Palestinian from Gaza a mother of 2. They were living in the US before recently returning to Gaza. She’s a good writer and seems to give a fairly accurate picture of the situation in Gaza, from her perspective. She was also eager to meet other Gaza bloggers, and recounts the meetup she had with all 7 bloggers described in this post. I haven’t yet had a chance to check out the other bloggers’ sites.
I’m linking to her blog out of courtesy and respect. I just hope she doesn’t think I’m following her for political reasons. While I may not agree with her, I think we can learn a lot from those with whom we disagree.
My recent reading, has given me a hint at how Arabs view Jews and Israel. It’s really a shame that they can’t easily travel here and see the truth. An Egyptian blogger and NGO worker did document his visit to Israel and Palestine. I found his descriptions wonderful. He allowed me to truly see Israel through the eyes of an Egyptian. His posts from the trip can be accessed on the sidebar of his blog, The Traveller Within.