I really don’t want to write about this. It’s going to get all the wrong people pissed off at me for all the wrong reasons. People who are looking for a reason to get inflamed, and aren’t afraid to look as petty and stupid as they accuse the other side of being. Anger can be addictive – I know this all too well. It’s the reason that I stuck with watching Lost during the total shitshow that was the second season (ultimately paid off. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – the third season finale was one of the finest hours of television ever produced. But I digress).
So let’s get down to it. I’m here, you’re here, we’re ready to hate each other real good over the interwebs.
Let’s talk about Israel and Palestine.
Now, I feel the need to provide a few bona fides here. I am a Zionist; in the traditional sense of the word: I believe in the validity and importance of a state based on a Jewish identity. That’s it.
I’ve identified myself as such in public in the past, and had one notable putz immediately accuse me in public of “Supporting the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people to create a pure Jewish state.” See what I said about some people being addicted to anger?
Now, as one side prepares to post angry comments, I also support the creation of Palestinian state. Unlike some fellow Zionists who exist on the extreme right, I don’t deny Palestinian nationhood. I support their supporter’s right to Israel Apartheid Week (though I disagree with the principles behind it, it is their right to proclaim such beliefs). I think that expansion of settlements in the territories is ridiculous. I think that collective punishment, which even the most ardent Israel supporter must acknowledge takes place, is morally and legally abhorrent.
These views have gotten me in trouble before. So, since both sides think I’m a moron, I have no choice but to conclude that I’m right. I use the same logic when I argue that neither Michael Jordan nor Lebron James is the best basketball player of all time, but rather Mugsy Bogues, an argument based in no small part on the fact that I find it amazing a man of his stature became a star in the NBA and also his last name is fun to say.
So right now, I’m not arguing for one side being “right” or “wrong” in the current mess in Gaza. In fact, the fact that so many people think in such terms is exactly what is wrong with the discourse surrounding the Middle East.
It’s not sports teams. There is no “winner” or “loser” in a multi-generational, hugely destructive conflict that has cost lives and treasure for almost 70 years. It is not a baseball game – it’s not even that one insane
World Series All-Star Game where Bud Selig decided “Screw this, I’m cranky and tired and I want to go home so we’re all winners. Hurray!”
The fact is, I don’t know who is right or wrong. I think both sides are both. And I don’t know who started it. I don’t really care, to tell you the truth.
So this is not an argument from me. It’s a plea. The kind that usually falls on deaf ears once the people stop calling me a fascist or a traitor or whatever else they want to call me. I’m fine being called such things by people who use the terms “turn the territories into a parking lot” on one side and people who support Hamas despite denouncing their buddies in the Syrian government on the other. Both sides are dumb.
So here’s the plea. Realize that this is a complex issue. Realize that there are so many factors that go behind the simple “Jews vs. Arabs” reductionism. Realize that this is about people who want to feel secure in their homes, but also about paranoia after years of bombs on commuter buses. Realize that this is about institutionalized distrust. Realize that this is about a democratic system to insane, that political parties of two people can occasionally hold the decision making power in their hands, and if they are so inclined, can use that power in petty, short-sighted ways. Realize that this is about water rights, and demographics, and that almost all the concerns on both sides are legitimate. Realize that despite some nuts in the government and downright bad people who do bad things in the military, most Israelis are decent people. Realize that the same holds true when you cross the border into Gaza and West Bank.
Realize that the problems of this conflict are local, but assholes are an international epidemic.
Realize that on both sides, there are people. Blood, flesh, bone. Realize that no matter what political stance you take, shrapnel tears you apart just the same.
Realize that words matter. How the world talks about this conflict will go a long way towards establishing how it is resolved.
Realize that there will be many douchebags who will hate this article. Then realize, hey I don’t have to be one of them.