My dialogue with Michael from Ramallah started when he commented on my take-down of the far-Left MachsomWatch in Arutz 7. This is my response to his most recent letter.
Since our e-mail exchange, you have since taken me to Nablus and Ramallah, for which I am grateful. Still, your e-mail to me warrants a written response.
I liked your take down on MachsomWatch. It is fresh and comforting to know that even Palestinians themselves would have cause to resent them. Yes, MachsomWatch is part of a team that exploits both Israelis and Palestinians to create enmitiy and to forge on with the division of land and population based on fear, racism, and misguided nationalism. Most of these liberal or even conservative Zionist organizations which promote and perpetuate fear and enmity are funded by people who have no on-the-ground-stake in the conflict, and use us Israelis and Palestinians to ease their consience. In the case of American Jews, most seek to justify their materially pleasant existence abroad while feeling "connected." In the case of Europeans, we assuage their "white" guilt. Arabs are no better, with their scapegoating Israel to create an emeny that draws attention away from their own injustices.
About entering Areas A & B, I have since come to you agree with you. It is the Israeli government that has put signs up in front of Palestinian towns and villages that forbid us or warn us from entering because they are "dangerous." I wasn't here before the Oslo Accords were signed, but I hear the fond memories of "settlers" who used to go into Palestinians areas all the time to shop, eat, get haircuts and visit friends. The first intifada changed that. These signs actually give credence to claims of Israel as an "apartheid state." The main reason is that Israel doesn't want to suffer the liability or consequences of some Islamic assailant who'd kidnap, rape, or kill a Jew who enters the territory. It's a precaution. Even if the chances are 1 in 1000, they don't want another Gilad Shalit (albeit a civilian).
I never argued that the barrier played a security role. If it does, it's flimsly at best. I think it's a cowardly statement of the Israeli government which is too afraid of confronting Islamic terror at its source. If Islamic terrorists knew there would be damning consequences for randomly blowing up women and children, they'd stop. I think IDF operations in PA areas served as better security precaution. The "wall" expresses the ghetto mentality of Jews, who would like to live separate lives in their communities, fearful of intermingling with the "other." (Arabs states are even worse in that regard with their blatantly anti-Semitic policies, so let's not gang up on Israel here.) I drive on the same roads as Palestinians every day and, yes, we don't kill each other.
Regarding maps, I was referring to the particular graffiti on the municipal wall at Jayous. It was ugly propoganda with blood dripping over the land of Israel equating all of it with "Palestine." It was more than a generic "hasbara" image. It was laced with hatred. I'm sorry, but I don't see that kind of propoganda on public buildings in Israel. At best, they'll have proud national symbols and pictures of cute Israeli children waving Israeli flags or IDF soldiers proudly defending their country (okay, I know, Palestinians consider the IDF a statement of "hate"). About the "Nakba," I feel for people who lost their homes, but there was a war, and they were on the wrong side. At some point, you have to admit defeat and move on. My Iraqi grandparents should have learned from Palestinians to fight against expulsions. They were torn from their home in Iraq. Jews have claims of unjust displacement.
About textbooks...point made. It is ridiculous that the Israeli government would allow such hatred to fester when it could stop it. I can see how the Israeli government actually does little to stop the incitement to terror and hatred of Israel and Jews. At the same time, don't you think Palestinians would resent having their textbooks dictated by the "Zionist" entity? Would they be okay with an Israeli curriculum? No matter what grievances Palestinians have against Israel, they can make their case without murdering innocent civilians or attacking the military. You seem to excuse Palestinian violence, yet that only creates more fear and suspicion which leads to more separation and paranoia. I have yet to see proud Palestinian proclamations against terrorism on moral grounds.
You cannot divorce Islam from the equation, and Palestinian societies are Islamic societies. Zionism is incompatible with Islam in its pure form. Period. If there is a mosque, it's preaching anti-Zionism. A Muslim who accepts the existence of Israel is an apostate. Practicing Muslims may pretend to buy into a two-state "solution," but that is seen as an interim solution leading the dissolution of the Jewish state. Sure, you'll say not everyone practices true Islam, but that is the ethos in the society. So you want Israel to provide amenities to Palestinians, but Palestinians don't want to recognize the legitimacy of the government providing them. (Go ahead, make the same case for ultra-Orthodox Jews.) I've heard countless stories of Israel offering Palestinian villages to connect with Israeli sewage and water, but PA politicians nix the deal because the move would be viewed as annexation.
We went to Nablus together, and I commented on the trash in the street. I also commented how I was disturbed that kids are given toy guns to play with as a post-Ramadan treat. Nablus operates under full Palestinian civilian and security control. You can't blame everything on Israel. Instead of giving kids gun to play with, why not galvanize groups to clean up the trash? They have so many resources in their power to better their society and neighborhoods as is, without Israeli government help, especially with all the sympathy and funding they receive from the international community.
There is no moral equivalence between Ben Gurion and other Zionist leaders such as Herzl to sickos like Arafat. Arafat explicitly targeted innocent women and children--indiscriminately--with the stealth goal of erasing Israel from the map. (And don't give me the crap that it was the only way for a poor people to fight the "Occupation." If you believe killing kids is justified, you deserve to be occupied by a system the protects against murder!) I would tend to believe reports that Arafat the rat was a pedophile too. Ben Gurion and Israel's founding fathers, while far from moral perfection, at least fought for a positive vision of self-determination: an overall free society that accepted Arabs as citizens. Mahmoud Abbas recently said no Israeli could live in "Palestine." Some call it a political consideration--something he has to say to appease his people--but that makes racism a political agenda and says a lot about what Palestinian people want. Ben Gurion accepted Arabs as citizens, and they overall thrive in Israel. I'm sure I have as many beefs about the Israeli government as do Israeli Arabs. I don't feel completely free in Israel as a Jew, especially as one who lives in Samaria.
About streets and airports named after nationalist leaders. I hope they don't name anything after Sharon. He was a criminal for expelling Jews from their homes. I'm not a fan of Rabin, either. A lot of Left-wingers can't stand Begin. No Israeli leader truly reflects anyone's opinions. Still, I can't boycott Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. And Rabin wasn't a bad person, just naive, with some bad ideas. At the end of the day, the feel-good sentiment of having an airport named after a nation's leader is a non-essential. What's more important is the ethics of the governing system. The PA, Hamas and others of their ilk are dictatorial systems. Let the Palestinians find better symbols. I'll work on our end. Arafat should be a part of their history they're ashamed of.
Thanks for taking me to Nablus, but I liked Ramallah a lot better. Let's hope what you say is true: that Palestinians truly want to live together, that most reject Islamic movements, and that what they seek is individual rights. Those are the people who should be in power, but they're afraid to come out....Can you help me find them?