Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Out Of Left Field

I would hate to think that people got the wrong idea from this blog a couple of days ago in which I said that while I share several political views as are held by people associated with the Israeli/Zionist right. In short, I emphasized Israel’s right to exist, by standards of history, legal procedures and international recognition. My agreement on those issues notwithstanding, I find it impossible to align myself with the right because of the amount of racism that I see and hear from that camp.

First of all, I have no doubt that most left-wingers I know here in Israel agree with these basic ideas of Israel’s right to exist.

Where most on the left would disagree with me is in how much responsibility Israel should bear for the suffering of the Palestinian people. I wrote the other day that despite some poor decisions and outright mistakes made by the Israeli leadership in dealing with the Palestinians, the bulk of the blame lies on the shoulders of the Palestinian leadership.

I agree that “occupying” another people is wrong, although I do believe that sometimes it is the only alternative available in order to protect our own civilians.

Furthermore, I don’t believe that Israel is currently in the role of “occupier”. The Oslo Accords in 1993 pretty much ended that. With that agreement, the disputed land was divided into 3 areas:

Area A – The primary Arab cities and population centers, where the vast majority of Palestinians live fell completely under military and civil control of the Palestinian Authority. Israelis citizens are not allowed in Area A.

Area B – The areas of most of the smaller Palestinian villages fell under civil control of the Palestinian Authority while Israel maintained a military presence.

Area C – The areas where the Jewish settlements and population centers areas remained under full control of Israel.

So, the only areas without any Palestinian presence at all is where there are no Palestinians living. Every place that has Palestinian civilians was placed under either partial or complete Palestinian control. That makes it very difficult to wring hands over an Israeli “occupation”.

For those who would say that there should be any Jewish presence represents “occupation” in Gaza and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria (the label used is determined by an individual’s political viewpoint), I have trouble accepting that as well. Just as the world would completely reject (and rightfully so) any discussion of removing all Arab presence from Israel “proper”, the idea of removing all Jewish presence from outside of the Green Line should be equally disregarded.

I admire, respect and agree with the values touted by the left for human rights, dignity and respect. But, if Israel’s leaders are forced to choose between the well-being of the Palestinian people and the well-being of Israel’s citizens, then their primary responsibility should be to their own people.

I have friends, a married couple who very much believe in the ideals of Peace Now. One evening about 9 years ago, Sharon and I got together with them for dinner a couple of days after a suicide bomb attack perpetrated by a 17-year old Palestinian girl at a supermarket in Jerusalem killed 2 Israelis. The husband of this couple was very emotional about he wished he could have had the chance to meet this girl before she carried out her attack – to hug her and tell her that she doesn’t need to feel such hatred in her heart. He was truly saddened by her death at the young age of 17.

When I asked him about the two Israelis killed in the attack, he brushed them off – he said that they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that while that is very sad, it’s not as tragic as the poor girl that felt the need to blow herself up in the supermarket.

It is very rare that I am left speechless – but this was one of those times. This beauty of this man’s compassion for this girl who felt death was preferable to life was completely overshadowed by his complete lack of compassion for the innocent civilians murdered by her act.

This is not a blanket statement about the “left wing” as a whole. It was a reflection of this particular individual. But I also know without a doubt that he is not the only person on the left with these views and emotions.

Too many people on the left, in pursuing respect and understanding for the Palestinians, are not able to find that same level of respect and understanding of their fellow Israelis.

Too many people on the left are ready at the drop of a hat to sit and discuss their differences with the Palestinian leadership which has continually stated a desire to push Israel into the sea, yet are unwilling to hear a word or acknowledge any validity of any views of the Israeli right.

Unfortunately, there also exists a very serious problem with how too much of the right relates to the left. I also take serious issue with the many individuals on the right whose response to the views of the left is to accuse them of being “self-hating Jews”, and even worst “traitors”.

News Flash for the Right: The views expressed by the Israeli left are what they believe in their hearts is what is right for Israel. They differ from what you see as being what Israel needs to do, and there will be examples in which history will show that they were mistaken (and history will show the same with many of your views a well) – but we must recognize these views for what they are – the beliefs of Israelis wanting what is best for Israel.

To relate to those views as anything other than what they are is a serious injustice.

Perhaps in order to sit and negotiate with the Palestinians we must first show an ability to do so with ourselves – showing the respect and dignity for our fellow Israelis and the views they hold so vastly different from our own.

We cannot control what other nations and peoples do, nor can “force” them to do the “right” thing. But we should be able to take charge of ourselves.

The bottom line concern for Israel really is our common denominator.

1 comment:

  1. Asher, I tend to have a lot of tolerence for difference of opinion and I give a lot of benefit of the doubt that most Israelis care about Israel, however that plays itself out, but you make it very hard for me.

    It stretches me beyond my limit of tolerence to discover that some people feel compassion that Alaa Abu Dhein should be forced to hate but don't give a damn that Avraham David Moses was murdered in hatred.

    People like that are not in favor of Israel,or even in favor of human rights. They are pro-Palestinian by being against Israel.

    If they were they put to the test, if it were their child a Disengof Center, say, or at a grocery store in Kiryat Yovel, I'm sure they would take it very personally, while intrinsically blaming any other victim.

    I'm sure I have a mitzvah regarding people like this, but it's hard to know which one.