Friday, March 17, 2006

Where Do We Really Belong?

(Here I go again with my tendency to bring up sensitive topics...)

Not long ago, I saw a program on BBC News in which they were interviewing the leader of a far-right political party in the UK (whose name I don't recall at the moment). The main platform of that party was the barring of all immigrants and the removal of all non-English (or at least non-whites) from England. Part of the interview went as follows:

Party Leader: We want all members of all minorities to understand that they have nothing to fear from us.
Interviewer: But you say, if your party wins, all immigrants would have to leave the country?
PL: That's right. All of them would have to go back to their home countries.
Int.: Even non-white British citizens who were born and raised here in England?
PL: That's right. All of them would have to go back.
Int.: You say that they have nothing to fear, and yet you would uproot them from the only home they've ever known and send them off to a country that would probably be totally alien to them?
PL: That's right. We would send them back to where they belong.
Int.: And that doesn't sound the least bit ridiculous to you?
PL: (pause) Well, it may sound ridiculous to you, but it doesn't sound ridiculous to a lot of people. You democrats have already succeeded in making a total mess of the world, and it's up to people like us to sort it out!

I am reminded of this exchange because I find myself confronted far more than ever before by one of our planet's ugliest and most complicated ethnic conflicts: the Israel/Palestine issue. The best way to come to understand anything is to become acquainted with someone who has a direct connection with it. I have met a number of people from the Middle East over the years; I've become acquainted with and even befriended people from Yemen, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the UAE, and Iran. All of them were rightly concerned about the Palestinian issue. However, I never actually met someone of Palestinian descent until now. I'm referring to a recent addition to our growing circle of blog friends, Saba (a college student in Canada whose family lives in Bahrain, but is originally from the West Bank city of Ramallah). Understandably, Saba's concern for the plight of the Palestinians is very close and personal. On her blog, she delivers her concerns with frankness and two-by-four-across-the-face impact. I will be frank myself and say that I think some of her views are rather extreme (welcome to the club...), but reading and viewing accounts from someone who can speak from direct, family experience is very eye-opening to say the least. Anyone who still has a heart or soul cannot help but be moved by this.

I have already heard plenty about the other side of the story. When I first came to Japan, there were two fellow members of the program, friends of mine, that were Jewish and planned to go to Israel and serve with the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) as soon as their contract here ended. They spoke of Arabs, Lebanese, and Iranians with considerable respect, but their regard for Palestinians was disturbingly reminiscent of the way the Afrikaaners in South Africa regarded blacks...or the way early American pioneers regarded "injuns". In other words, their attitude was along the lines of, "The only good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian."

Try getting to know a Palestinian...most definitely a human being who cares very deeply for her family and her people...and see if you can defend that way of thinking. I can't.

Unfortunately, trying to look at both sides of the story makes an already difficult situation horribly complicated. Saba refers to the Israelis as people that don't belong there. Yes, from the Palestinian view, that would be appropriate, since the Israelis uprooted them from their land and more or less forced them onto reservations like my ancestors did with the Native Americans. However, too much time has passed, too much has happened, and it's no longer so cut and dry.

When the modern nation of Israel was founded, a lot of things happened that shouldn't have. Israel then went on to do a lot of things that they shouldn't have. (Ramallah is probably the best example; historically, it was the Prague of the Middle East, a home of poets and thinkers, but it has suffered horribly during the occupation...particularly as a result of the Israeli settlements that have been built around it...on forcibly expropriated land.) The problem is, while it's relatively easy (or at least should be) for Israel to pull its troops and settlements out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it's a different matter to hope to eliminate Israel entirely. It has been there for half a century now. Much if not most of its current population was born and raised there, and it's the only home they know. On the other hand, the Palestinians that were displaced from "Israel" are becoming older and fewer in number, making the claim more of a historical one than a direct one.

If historical claims are universally valid, then my family doesn't belong in its home in the quiet, coastal town of Waldport. It was originally the home of the Alsi, a very peaceful tribe that got along well with white settlers until it, along with its kin, the Yakina (Yaquina) tribe in what is now Newport, was forced to relocate to the Siletz reservation. That happened more than a hundred years ago. My mother was born and raised there. I was born there, too. Is it wrong for us to call that land "home" because our ancestors siezed the land wrongfully a century ago? Should we suddenly just say, "We're sorry," move to Scotland/England/France/(wherever else our ancestors came from), and turn the whole territory over to the Siletz Confederation? That would be a very generous thing to do. However, to quote that BBC reporter, it would also be ridiculous.

I honestly hope Israel grants full, sovereign statehood to the Palestinians. I hope they get their asses out of Palestinian territory (currently identified as the West Bank and Gaza Strip), stop treating the people there like shyte, and allow them their livelihood and their self-respect. On the other hand, I hope the new Hamas government somehow finds the wisdom to understand that Israel's roots have gotten to be too deep, and it is not going to disappear anytime soon. And also, though I see more than ever now that they have plenty of reason to be angry (an anger that I, as an American, will probably never fully understand), I hope the intifada concentrates more on constructive forms of resistance, e.g. political and economic, and less on blowing people up. If they do, they definitely have the full support of this white American...who lives in Japan.

31 comments:

Seymour said...

I still think the UN should have used Austria to be the Jewish homeland after WW2. That would have driven a cruel spike in the soft Nazi underbelly.

Vbnskmi- A Polish Saint who drove all the snakes into Warsaw.

saba said...

This post truely brings tears to my eyes. im glad that you finally actually understand what i was trying to say, and i m glad that i actually made an impact. It seriously makes me feel like a queen lol...anyways enough with that.
yea i agree that political party is kinda screwed up in the head..sending everyone home what the hell? isnt that a bit too late?

and yes u hav the right to call where u grew up your home..but hey, havent you thought what happened to the people who used to call that land home? where do they call home now?

let me put in another way. Lets say israel takes over all palestinian land which it is going to do, and kills or evacuates all palestinians which it is soon going to do. Where am i supposed to call home?

the issue is an issue of belonging. All my life i have been all around the globe born in UAE, raised in wales, lived in Jordan for a while, and then Bahrain and now Canada. What kind of life is that? You might think it sounds cool..but dude it doesnt its fucking painful. I just want to be able to live on my own land, walk in my own streets and be with my cousins and family..is that too much to ask?? i guess it is. so please, dont compare us to the african americans, or to the native americans...because it hurts, we arent their yet and i pray day and night that we ll never become that way ...i dont want to end up in the same situation..no offense.

saba said...

Oh replying to Seymour...hahahaha they should ve just built an island in the sea and get out of people's lives. Joking btw..or maybe not?

Anonymous said...

I remember somebody else wanting the Jews out of peoples lives. Interesting.

Why Palestinians Usually Get It Wrong said...

Palestinians Humiliate Themselves

In a March 16 editorial in the New York Times titled, As If That Fire Needed Fuel, the Times writes:

"Israeli Army officials ordered inmates to strip to their underwear [see photo below], which many did, marching out with clothing on their heads, an embarrassing and completely unnecessary provocation that trampled the dignity of any Palestinian watching that spectacle.

Given the humiliations that ordinary Palestinians suffer merely by trying to get through Israeli checkpoints every day, the prison raid just reinforced the already degrading reality of living under foreign occupation."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated, “What happened without a doubt is an ugly crime which can not be forgiven and a humiliation for the Palestinian people.”

Palesinians should feel humiliated. A majority of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem support suicide terrorism. A 2001 poll by Dr. Nabil Kukali and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), found, "a substantial majority [of Palestinians] (76.1%) support suicidal attacks like that of Netanya [in May, 2001], whereas 12.5% oppose, and 11.4% express no opinion." A 2006 poll taken by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center after the recent Hamas political victories found, “56.2% [of Palestinians] strongly or somewhat support suicide bombing operations against Israeli civilians whereas 40.7% oppose such operations.”

Considering that the majority of Palestinians support suicide terror, and considering that Israel prevents suicide killings on a daily basis, it should come as no surprise that captured Palestinians are asked to remove their clothes during the process of incarceration. Why should any Israeli take a chance of being blown up? Why should Israel present Palestinians with opportunities to commit suicide killings?

Palestinians should feel humiliated about their culture of death and they should be asked to strip naked during the process of incarceration as long as their population continues to support, condone, and commit suicide killings.

http://whypalestiniansgetitwrong.blogspot.com/

cuddletotheleft@yahoo.com

saba said...

to why palestinians get it wrong ...FUCK U

Pa've said...

There is not going to be peace in Israel. You have two groups of people who both claim possesion to the same thing, and both are willing to die for it.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Easy, Saba. This is supposed to be a family-friendly site (i.e. we generally try to keep four-letter words to a minimum).

"UP YOURS" or even "GO SHAFT YOURSELF" probably don't have as much impact, but they would convey the same general meaning to that troll poster, and I know Mr. Snabulus would appreciate it more.

Pandabonium said...

I like Saba's website for her straight out expression of her thoughts. Sometimes I agree, sometimes not, and often it is painful to read either way.

The situation is as complex as it is tragic, though it shouldn't be. People need to look at the history, learn the difference between Judaism and Zionism and what the present day State of Irsael represents, as well as what has happened with and to the Palestinian people in the 20th century. Unfortunately, most people who comment on the subject - especially who live in countries far removed from the area (ahem) - know none of it and base their views on TV sound bites delivered dutifully by the corporate media.

I am not qualified nor prepared to offer solutions (not that I don't have my own opinions). I just want to offer the wish I share with Moody for a meaningful peace which includes an independent Palestinian state.

Thanks for a great blog, Saba.

saba said...

Moody: Sorry about the foul language earlier but i was kinda drunk when i read that comment and im guessing it seriously pissed me off. I promise i ll not look at my blog while i have vodka running in my system. I mean it was st. patties day afterall.
And pandabnium, im glad you like my blog. ANd yes you r right i do try to bring my opinion forward as clear as possible and try to explain it. My goal is not to convince anyone im right but just to show you another side of it all.
and pave, the situation is not THAT simple hell, if it was we would ve solved it by now. There is money, politics, social relations, resourses, research and demographics all involved in the situation. So please dont sum up the palestinian/israeli conflict in two lines.

Why Palestinians Usually Get It Wrong said...

Irshad Manji Got it Right Today in the New York Times

Irshad Manji got it right today in her New York Times opinion piece titled “How I Learned to Love the Wall.” Ms. Manji writes, “this barrier, although built by Mr. Sharon, was birthed by "shaheeds," suicide bombers whom Palestinian leaders have glorified as martyrs. Qassam missiles [launched at Israel] can kill two or three people at a time. Suicide bombers lay waste to many more. Since the barrier went up, suicide attacks have plunged, which means innocent Arab lives have been spared along with Jewish ones. Does a concrete effort to save civilian lives justify the hardship posed by this structure? The humanitarian in me bristles, but ultimately answers yes.”

http://whypalestiniansgetitwrong.blogspot.com/

Don Snabulus said...

Wow, did somebody start a blog just for the purpose of antagonizing our sole Palestinian commenter? Now, THAT is hatred my friends. I certainly hope it isn't one of our regulars because, if it is, you can consider our friendship over.

Sorry Saba, that even at sparsely read Snabulus, you cannot seem to hide from the taunts of your persecutors.

Israel's greed for land has put them in a state of constant danger. If they could have been happy with UN borders in either 1948 or 1967, we wouldn't be at this point. Now they administer a land with an increasingly hostile population that is not allowed to vote or they would oust their oppressors, but also is inexplicably not allowed to solidify borders and become a nation.

Countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan like to pander to some false sympathy for Palestinians, but when it gets down to it, noobody is willing to call these people brothers and sisters and say, "We will share our homeland with you." For them, Palestine is merely a vehicle to vilify and demonize Israel. Their relief money (at least that portion that doesn't go to suicide bombers) fails to raise anyone out of poverty or get them out of refugee camps.

Palestinians are not perfect, but I think we need to cut people forced into the world's largest ethnic cleansing camp a little bit of slack. Suicide bombing is a very recent phenomenon and a smaller proportion of the Palestinian population actually engages in it than there are murderers in America. It hardly seems reasonable to judge an entire population on that. (If you want to be willfully stupid, I guess you could say I am defending an evil act, but I would ask such a person to go drink their ideological and illogical Kool-Aid somewhere else.)

There are certainly huge tactical errors that Palestinians have committed. First of all, suicide bombing itself creates no sympathy from the people who are in the best position to help. Consequently, electing Hamas, while I understand the corruption of Fatah and the desire to oppose Israeli oppression, was also an ill-advised collective decision.

The bottom line is that it is not right that Saba's family is disallowed to plant roots anywhere in this world because of this conflict. Everyone deserves a home and a homeland. Everyone deserves the right to vote for their leadership and that this leadership is not corrupt and acting against their interest. If you believe in America, you should also believe that certain rights are inalienable and therefore a natural (and to most, Godly) part of their existence. At the least, people are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This is what I ask for Saba and her fellow rootless travellers. I ask America to stop using Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding areas as pawns in a larger geopolitical game. Help this one small corner of the globe heal itself. I ask the people of the region to stop using the Palestinians in their political games and to get borders defined now rather than later even if that means a few people need to move off of land that was never theirs to begin with. It has been done by others, it can be done with Israelis and Palestinians.

Pa've said...

Saba, Sorry to be brief, but to try and sum up over 1400 years of Arab History and Islam is just too much to try and explain. One thing is certain. The Jews had Israel before the rise of Islam. The Jews have lost their terrotiry several times throughout history because they did or did not do somthing God told them to do.

The land of Israel as it was in ancient days is in fact far larger than what is currently occupied today. Centuries of warfare have blurred the distinctions between nations and borders.

I am not a jew, so I am not going to sit here and defend every jewish action to recover their land, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that Islam and Jeudaism can not peacefully coexist.

Pandabonium said...

Pa'ave - you have voiced a common misconception about the situation. One that the State of Israel contants puts out to confuse us.

Judaism does not call for Jews to reclaim their land. Quite the opposite. The real estate issue is about Zionism - a political movement that is only about a century old.

I'm not qualified to get into a long discussion of this either, just want to put in my 2 cents about something I do know - which I grant isn't a lot - but think is an important aspect.

Pandabonium said...

Yipes. "contants" is my morning groggy headed shorthand for "constantly". No vodka even, just a cup a coffee. Silly old bear.

ladybug said...

Let us not forget the wonderful legacy of the Crusaders, and Christianity's competition (isn't that what it really is?) with Islam.

The Crusaders decided the Holy Land should be for Xians, not the Muslims or the Jews, so several hundred years of war and looting by both sides left it's mark on the landscape; which current American Xian fundies conveniently forget.

By Pave's logic, all of North America (Canda, USA & Mexico) should be handed back to the Native Americans (or First Nations People as they are called in Canada).

So Pave - when are you going to hand over the title to your house to the Indians? ....since it's obvious that whites and Indians can't peacefully co-exist (your words).

Or perhaps the GENOCIDE committed against Native Americans by whites helps you sleep at night, since it was "somthing God told them to do"?

DewKid said...

Did the Indians not fight amongst themselves to take territory from each other before the white man arrived? Were there not examples of larger tribes commiting genocide against other smaller tribes? Being of native american descent myself (my great-great-grandmother was a full-blood Shasta Indian, wed to a half-blood Shasta Indian) I am sensitive to this issue.

But this is about Jews and Palestinians: rather than define them as incapable of living together (Saba herself recommended an oceanic island for the Jews to get them "out of people's lives"...), perhaps someone here can offer a real solution?

DewKid said...

I should add: I don't mean to imply there IS a quick solution, or that any of us are capable of compiling one, but it is more constructive to think along these lines, than the venom I'm seeing thrown back and forth (with and WITHOUT vodka).

Don Snabulus said...

As long as people haven't tired of the few radicals on each side controlling the actions of the many, the killing will continue.

At some point, the extremists on both sides will be marginalized and their tactics will fail to sway the will of their people. When this happens, lines will be drawn and people will live with the results and move forward.

The sooner, the better.

Pa've said...

I disagree. I think there is going to be a great erruption of violence in the Middle East, and there is little we can do about it. Keep thinking about Iran's nuclear program and what the jews are planning to do about it.

ladybug said...

Dewkid-

from one who also has ancestors among the Native Americans, I am MORE than sensitive to this issue as well. Our family has kept alive some of the oral history of our ancestors, and much of it isn't pretty.

Indian nation against Indian nation is nothing new, just as European nation against European nation is either ( i.e. the historical wars in Ireland/England, Sweden/Norway, France/Germany, etc., etc.) but to use such internecine violence as an excuse to justify whites' genocide of First Nation peoples is beyond my comprehension.

Kind of like saying "They're killing themsevles anyway, let's just help them out"???!!

Personally, I find the two situations are frighteningly similiar-the only difference is that Israel hasn't used biological weapons (yet).
Both perceive "god" is on their side and have reduced the enemy to Moody's clichéd phrase, "The only good Jew/Muslim is a dead Jew/Muslim" - which of course orginated with word INDIAN.

Wizard of Oz said...

Dear Mr "whypalestiniansgetitwrong",

I would be ashamed to post my identity too, if I were peddling hate and ingnorance.

You remind me of three characters I know well - a lion, a tin man and a scarecrow. You have some qualities of each, making you sort of a "cowardly tin scarecrow". Get a brain, get a spine, get a heart.

Until then, go post on your own blog - no one else reads it.

Don Snabulus said...

Pa've,

Could be. I didn't say things wouldn't get worse before they get better, possible much worse. I could also be wrong; I am no prognosticator. What I was laying out was what other peoples in conflict did to come to a stable state of some kind.

DewKid,

The venom here is much less than I've seen at other blogs etc. that cover the Israel/Palestine issue. As to your point about Native Americans vis-a-vis the Palestinians, I can only refer to Mark Twain, who said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Every comparison has problems, but that doesn't mean it is without value.

Wizard of Oz,

That is correct. To single somebody out and start a blog to antagonize that person is just plain creepy. Can you imagine donsnabulusmustdie.blogspot.com or dewkidisanidiot.blogspot.com? Not too cool.

saba said...

Judaism does not call for Jews to reclaim their land. Quite the opposite. The real estate issue is about Zionism - a political movement that is only about a century old. hehehehe your two cents are worth A LOT dude. That is basically it. It is all political, the religious bases of the nation is just to justify their exsistence in palestine. They calim one of their prophets lived their and have been digging for his body and remains for ummmm as long as they have been there. Have they found anything? NO, why? because its just a load of crap.

(Saba herself recommended an oceanic island for the Jews to get them "out of people's lives"...), perhaps someone here can offer a real solution? umm i never said Jews, i said Israelis. There is a BIG difference. And i was joking. The only solution would be, (with and without Vodka :P) is a comprimise i would say. If i was a palestinain leader frankly right now i would settle for anything offered (ofcourse if its merely reasonable) . The reason for that is because palestinians are losing so much right now, being human lives or economically and thats what Israel wants. I think its time to go back to reality and acknowledge the fact that Israel wont pick up and leave so its time to settle. Thats my solution. Now will that happen? ofcourse not.

You remind me of three characters I know well - a lion, a tin man and a scarecrow. You have some qualities of each, making you sort of a "cowardly tin scarecrow". Get a brain, get a spine, get a heart.

Until then, go post on your own blog - no one else reads it.
hehehehe i second that..Yea why does this person post their posts as comments :S ...freaky.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Holy mother f...

I get sidetracked for a little while, and the patch of grass turns into a &%$#* park (which will probably get bulldozed out to build new houses)!

I heard in the news this morning that Israel closed all crossings into Gaza Strip citing "security reasons", and now the entire enclave has only one day worth of flour left. The stores have already been picked clean of bread, and it is reported that there are basically scenes of mob violence in front of the few operating bakeries.

Israel says it has "no plans" to open the main economic transportation route anytime soon. This morning there were rumors that Israel was hinting about opening a different crossing, one that is inconvenient for the purpose of commercial transportation, but the Palestianian response was all but guaranteed to be negative.

At any rate, it looks to become a disaster in terms of food supply.

I'm sure Israel does have security concerns, especially after that raid on the Jericho prison, but this is basically adding injury to insult.

And people wonder why these crazed extremist groups have so many supporters?

DewKid said...

Easy ladybug, I didn't mean to be so volatile on the Indian thing: I didn't mean to uniformly condone the white man's slaughter of Indian people. Its the whole, "give the land back, its theirs" mentality that sets me off. I think perhaps I misunderstood what you were telling Pa've (after re-reading your post), so I apologize.

Saba, I'm not convinced you meant Israelis (you didn't specify either, but you were responding to something Seymour said about the Jewish homeland), nor was it clear you were truly joking. That's the trouble with words on a blog: it's impossible to get "sarcasm" or "feeling" of a comment. I'll take your word for it, and apologize for using you as my example.

Regarding the new poster and blog seemingly created for this one topic: that IS weird. I was looking at the blog, and it appears this person has spammed a bunch of other blogs with his/her articles, so its not just the Snabulus blog that's getting attention. Still, its odd the blog was created within a day (same day?) of the posting of this message. At first, I thought the blog was a parody, but now I'm not sure.

Snabby, you are right of course. As Def Leppard once said, "Pour some sugar on me!" That is to say, I probably shouldn't chime in on a subject I know very little about: it's like adding flour to water. And eggs, and sugar.... and baking it for 30 minutes and putting frosting on top. And candles. Hey, is THAT a birthday cake?

Moody, dammit do you always have to do that! :-)

Don Snabulus said...

As Def Leppard once said, "Pour some sugar on me!"

I've been waiting my whole life to hear you say that.

>:D

ladybug said...

Dewkid - Thanks for your post. I think you got my point about Pave's cognitive dissonance problem in which he seems to think Jews have historical claim to the Holy Land, where as Native Americans don't have historical claim to lands they lived, hunted & fished for millenia.

I'm not nessecarily advocating return of Native land per se, I'm just saying if you believe restoring historical land claims are the way to go,(with that whole "god" business thrown in), just be consistant.

Saba-a notion you might find interesting. I read a long time ago an article about some Xians who helped 2 Jewish people escape the Nazis in Austria, (a father & his infant son-the rest of the family perished).

The father was a rabbi, but had a different definition of Zionism. To him, Zion is a frame of mind, a place of freedom in your mind/spirit, NOT a physical place!

Therefore , Zionism as practiced by the modern state of Israel (settlers, destroying Palestinian homes, redirecting precious water supplys, etc.) was the same as Nazis "cleansing Jews" in Austria- so he and his son decided never to visit.

DewKid said...

I just discovered that indeed you did create those blogs. (It took me a minute to realize that they were backwards linked!)

Very funny, and you made my day. :-)

Ladybug, I don't believe in God. I subscribe only to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May he touch you with His Noodly Appendage. Amen.

ladybug said...

Dewkid - as an associate member of FSM myself, (remember it's ramen), I agreee. However, I personally prefer the Pink Unicorn Cabal (Pegasus division) myself.

hvikon-a Norwegian secret password for "don't cut the cheese"

Why Palestinians Usually Get It Wrong said...

Hey, did you all hear about the new special at Denny's? It is the Pancake Corrie Bulldozer Special, also called the Rachel Flat Cake.