Sometimes I find that my prejudices inform my interpretations of history more than they should, along with the fact that I am often not fully informed about world events. In the case of Israel and Palestine I am guilty of a prejudice towards the Jewish people as a result of what was done to them in Europe. I picture the events in Israel as some variation on musical chairs, in which two groups of people circled the same country and when they sat down they sat on top of each other. But it appears that what actually happened between Israel and Palestine is more similar to the childhood game King of the Mountain (although weaponizing it has made it anything but childish). King of the Mountain is a game in which one of two teams tries to occupy the high ground by pushing the other team off the top of the hill and conquering that strategic vantage point.
It turns out that when Israelis, who were only persecuted and hunted Jews at the time, found themselves without a homeland, without a country, without a refuge, and with nowhere to run, a movement began which led the Jewish people back to the land they occupied before the Diaspora. But that land was not empty. It was the nation of Palestine and was home to the Palestinian people. Israelis fought a war with the Palestinians (have you read the novel Exodus) and pushed them aside to make room for an Israeli nation. They became King of the Mountain. The Palestinians, however, never gave up their claim to their previous nation and the Israelis were in no mood to share.
The situation that has evolved between Israel and Palestine troubles our sense of what is just because we sympathize with both groups. We believe that, after all their horrors, Israel deserves their own spot on the earth and we believe that to be really fair that spot should be free from strife. We do not usually support a country that wrests land away from another country though. What Israel has been forced to do to establish a secure nation does not completely sit well with us as Americans. They stole a country, kicked out the people who were living there, and these people, the Palestinians, did not gladly move aside. They have been pushed into smaller and smaller areas but they continue to fight to regain a nation that they feel is theirs. The Jews believe that they were actually earlier inhabitants of Palestine than the people who call themselves Palestinians today and they feel totally justified in pushing the Palestinians aside.
There is much talk about peaceful coexistence, about sharing Palestine/Israel but the history of these two groups is anything but peaceful and neither party trusts such an arrangement. So where are the Palestinians to go? There are no empty nations nearby and those other nations would not be “home”.
We are left with uneasy contradictions to our sense of justice and fairness. We would not normally condone what Israel has done, but, given the Holocaust and the genocide we cannot condemn it either. The Palestinians are Arabs, surely they can find a place in another Arabic nation. The Jewish people have no other Jewish country to go to and they are our allies so we side with them against that slight twinge to our conscience that says that the Palestinians got shafted. The twinge to our conscience will hardly change our alliance though; we will just have to put up with an imperfect justice for now. (Except real people are dying and they are also on our conscience.) No wonder we wish for an acceptable solution. We need to work much, much harder to find an acceptable solution.
By Nancy Brisson
<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>