June 14, 2007
Combining fact and fiction confuses peace event
(Page 2 - Previous Page)As a group member, he enjoys easy access into Israel from his agricultural village near Nablus. He told me that his 3-year-old son was run over by a settler a few years ago. I tried to believe him, but my radar was up. I was no longer sure what was fact and what was fiction.
"Was it done on purpose?" I asked.
He said Israeli police determined it was settler "misbehavior." The settler was arrested and taken to jail, but he didn't know what happened to him.
"I don't care about this issue too much," he said. "When I ask about why it happened, I don't care about the answer. I know he was killed because he was a Palestinian, and that Israelis are killed because they are Israeli."
I think to myself that if my son was killed, I'd get my facts straight before I cry "bloody murder."
"Do you support a two-state solution?" I asked.
"I don't know if it's a two-state solution for two people or one state for two people," he replied. "I just want Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace."
If it's a one-state solution, I wondered, what kind of "one state" he would want?
"What about Hamas?" I probed.
"There's a big change taking place in Hamas today," he said. "Six years ago, if you told Hamas you met with Israeli people, they'd harm you or kill you. Now Hamas knows we meet with Israelis, and no one harms anyone."
I was not entirely comforted. I recalled a conservative propaganda movie about Islam warning people of taqiyya, the Muslim "mitzvah" of deception, in which militant Muslims put on a peaceful disguise for Westerners.
"Isn't Hamas a religious movement?" I asked. "It doesn't say anywhere in the Quran to blow up children and old people." What about men and women, I wondered, but I stopped myself from challenging him further about the Quran and jihad. I tried to keep the conversation friendly. It was time for me to "act," too.
He spoke endearingly of Hamas, saying how it has provided social services to needy Palestinians, the main source of their victory in the elections.
"Is Hamas a [peace] partner?" I probed further.
"For sure," he said confidently, his eyes lighting up. Hamas, he said, is open to negotiating with Israel, but "the [foot]ball is on the Israeli side."
An Israeli woman briefly interrupted us, patted Ibrahim on the back, and said in a heartfelt way: "Thank you for coming. You're so brave."
"Thank you, thank you," he muttered. I noticed he didn't look her in the eyes.
"What's your attitude on terror?" I asked.
"I'm against terror," he said, clinching it with, "I'm against terror on both sides: Israeli and Palestinian."
Good. That's good, I thought.
I asked him about rocket attacks on Sderot, but I anticipated his clichéd, inaccurate response, riddled with moral subjectivism: "I had a meeting in Bethlehem [with Palestinians] about this issue. We said, 'When we throw rockets on Sderot, we succeed in killing six to seven people, but at the same time, we lose 600-700 people in Gaza. We are against rockets on Israelis and against tanks in Palestinian cities, where people only fight with stones."
Sorry, I thought to my myself, but they're Qassam rockets, not just stones anymore.
Earlier I had asked the refuznik, Yonatan, what he thought of the event. He said it was impressive, "but the problem, of course, is that we're preaching to the converted."
Well, I was open to some proselytizing, but I wasn't converted. I was open to preaching - but honest , thoughtful preaching - not acting, not plays, not slogans, not stereotypes, not oversimplifications, not half-truths.
I left the event feeling I had just watched a predictable, third-rate propaganda movie, one that was filled with stock characters, hackneyed scenes - and bad acting.
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