Friday, June 8, 2007

Different worlds

Many years ago I had a long standing discussion with a friend of mine. Both of us are Jewish but we had very different upbringings. At home I had a very traditional Jewish life, and though we never spoke politics, Israel was always present. I didn't go to Jewish schools, and once I got interested in the subject, I had to acquire my information about the Arab-Israeli conflict independently. My friend on the other hand had almost no Jewish education at home, went to Jewish schools and was part of a very left leaning Jewish youth movement. One of the schools she attended was rather religious and there she developed a strong dislike for religious Jews. This dislike was deepened with the ongoing discussions about politics that she would hear at the youth movement, which were very strongly influenced with Avoda and Meretz ideology. (Personally I am more of a Likud-Kadima-Shinui person, depending on the subject).

We would argue at length about the settlement issue. She would insist that the only problem the Palestinians (and the world) had with Israel were the settlements. The only reason Palestinians brainwashed their children that killing Jews in the name of Allah will get them 72 virgins in heaven, the only reason Palestinians strapped explosive belts onto themselves and then detonated them in a crowd of teenagers waiting in line, the only reason Palestinians do the Nazi salute and read Mein Kampf, all that, it's because of the settlements. If settlements like Ariel and Itamar disappeared, then the Pallies of the West Bank would accept Israel as a neighbor. If Gush Katif and Netzarim wouldn't exist, then the Pallies of the of the Gaza Strip would be fine with the existence of Israel right outside of their borders.

This, she would say, is also why world opinion is against Israel. If only Israel would show a gesture of good faith, if only Israel would be the "bigger person", if only Israel would give back the occupied territories (this is where I would interrupt and mumble "disputed territories, not occupied, words are important..."), then the world wouldn't be able to not take Israel's side. If Israel gives in to Palestinian demands, then the world wouldn't be capable of saying that Israel has done anything wrong.

It's a bit hard to argue with that ¨logic¨. Especially when you consider this was about 8 years ago, before the world showed its true face.

Still, I couldn't agree.
"But what if we give them back territories, and they continue the violence and the hate? What if they use what we give them in order to attack us even more? I don't trust them."

Her answer was crystal clear, as if she had learned it by heart from her youth movement leader.
"I don't trust them either." (Can I get three cheers for coherence? At least I'd vote for people who say we haven't got a partner for peace. But you? You support negotiations with people you don't trust?) "But Israel can do things the smart way: They can give back territories piece by piece, and the moment the Palestinians misbehave then it all stops. If the Palestinians never misbehave then Israel has what it wants, doesn't it?"

I still couldn't quite see how this was the perfect solution.
"But what if Israel sees they behave well and gives back everything and then they start a war against us? What if even after one piece they start attacking again? Won't they think that we're rewarding terrorism with land? Won't they figure that the more terrorism they perpetuate, the more land they'll get? You think it's that easy to take control again? Once we do, every one will scream that we're occupying again."

But her vision of the world was as clear as it was naive.
"Don't you get it? In that case, since Israel will have done everything that they could do, if the Palestinians throw even one little stone in the direction of Israel, the world will immediately condemn them and will be on Israel's side. If they launch any type of military action against Israel inside Israel's borders then the armies of the world will be there instantly to protect Israel."

In the summer of 2005 her vision finally happened. Israel dismantled the settlements and the army posts in the Gaza strip. All the Jews living there were evacuated. All 8000 of them. You'd think that it'd be a whole lot more since everyone was complaining so much about them being there. 8000 Jews forced to leave because Jews cannot live in the Palestinian Authority. After the disengagement, everything of use that was left (like greenhouses) was destroyed. Synagogues were desecrated. And... Kassam rocket firing intensified. Hey wasn't it supposed to be the other way around? They're happy that we left, they're thankful, so they become a bunch of peace-loving-kumbaya-singing hippies?

My friend and I, we're not in touch anymore. I'm not even sure if she's still in the same country.
But I'd like to run into her some day. I'd ask her "So where's your world indignation over daily Kassam rockets being fired into Israel inside her borders from territories we gave back without any conditions? Where's your world condemnation for the Palestinians' festering circle of violence and hate and applause for Israel's restraint? Where's your world who was supposed to come and save us?"

1 comment:

*micol* said...

Well Moishe, I don't know if you'll ever get the chance to ask your friend this, but I have a pretty good idea of what your friend would say.

I showed this to an ex-boyfriend who's had this discussion with me FOREVER. We broke up a little after disengagement (huh, the irony?) so we never really talked about the matzav since then.

I can't say I was surprised at his reaction. If he had been right about his "peace premonitions", he woud have said that this was what had to be done all along. But now that he's proven wrong? Here's his reply:
"The question in itself [where's your world who was supposed to come and save us?] is stupid. People who thought that the world would be on our side once we were "clean" and out of the territories, maybe they were naive, but it's a logic like any other.
But today we're very far from a situation where Israel can say they've done everything in their power, and nothing works. [My note: what?? You want to give the more to see if maybe THEN they'll want peace with us?]..."
and I'll spare you the rest of the discussion, but basically it's that you're not supposed to trust the rest of the world. What bad faith. He's the one who kept telling me the world would stand by us.

It's conversations like these which remind me why he's an EX boyfriend.

Moishe, you won't get any admission from your friend that she was wrong, or that Israel did more than what was expected and got a slap in the face. All you'll get is a bunch of cowardly answers blaming Israel through some loophole.

Sniff. And this coming from a Jew. How can you expect non Jews to support us? I admire those who do. It's not easy with the media propaganda going all against us.

Am Israel Chai