I don’t get into Israeli politics very often. Not because I’m uninformed, but because I’m conflicted.
Here’s a little background on me. I’m an Iranian Jew. Don’t be surprised, there are actually many of us. There are no members of my family remaining in Iran, where I was born. I have dozens (possibly hundreds!) of cousins currently in Israel.
My point in sharing this information is that I have a dog in the race. I actually have several dogs in this race. That being said, I wasn’t raised to be conflicted. I grew up watching hundreds of hours of holocaust footage and films. There was never an anti-Israel perspective introduced into my childhood, probably because there isn’t a single branch of my family tree that isn’t 100% Jewish.
I never felt as if Israel was ever anything less than 100% right in anything that they ever did. As an adult, I realize now that there’s no such thing as 100% “right”. Both sides in a conflict are always partially wrong. That “good versus evil” ideology is immature and isn’t rooted at all in reality. It’s always a product of blinding bias. And I have to say that in the case if Israel, it’s the most understandable bias in human history. No people have been persecuted more relentlessly than the Jewish people. So when Israel is wronged, or perceived to have been wronged, it’s extremely personal to most Jews. None of us have to go back more than 3 generations to find personal stories of tragedy and brutality.
Yasser Arafat was the Palestinian leader for all of my formative years. He was, in my estimation, a truly loathsome bastard who was never interested in achieving peace with Israel. I honestly believe that his primary objective in life was to obliterate Israel and turn that land into a Palestinian state. His zealotry didn’t however, preclude him from exploiting his people and squirreling millions of dollars away in European banks. He was just an all round hateful piece of shit. I always felt that as long as he was in power, Israel was justified in doing whatever it had to do to keep their country because giving an inch to Arafat would mean losing everything.
There have been two times in history that I believe peace was close enough to touch. The first was when Bill Clinton was working to broker a deal between Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat. The offer from Israel was never going to get better than it did under Rabin, and Arafat knew it. He still turned it down and Rabin was rewarded for his efforts by being assassinated by one of his own.
Days before Bill Clinton left office, Arafat called him up to tell him (Clinton) that he was a great man. Clinton responded by saying, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you have made me one.” Clinton then went on to let Arafat know that his actions had guaranteed that Ariel Sharon would be elected the next prime minister of Israel.
Israel did elect Ariel Sharon, who was not quite the neocon that Netanyahu (who is currently in power) is, but he was definitely not likely to work for peace. He didn’t. The second near miss for peace came when Arafat came back to Sharon a year after he was elected to accept the terms that Clinton and Rabin had proposed. Sharon declined to accept.
Since Arafat’s death, there has been a dramatic role reversal between Israel and Palestinians. Israel has become the brutal aggressor, while Palestinians seem to have largely taken the approach of peaceful protest. I’m not saying that there aren’t still Palestinian terrorists whose goal it is to ensure that peace never happens. But those factions are not leading the country, and they are a minority.
Israel has become a vicious bully with tunnel vision, going so far as to slap their only ally in the face. A couple of months ago, while our Vice President was visiting Israel, the Israeli interior minister blindsided the world with an announcement that 1,600 new housing developments would be built in East Jerusalem. Israel is so tunnel visioned by their agenda, that they embarrassed the only ally they have in the world.
Between that, the thirty days of bombing the shit out of Lebanon with no regard to the loss of innocent life, and the latest murder of nine innocent people, I remain conflicted on this topic in completely different ways than I was in previous lives. I’m conflicted because I want Israel to exist peacefully. But I cannot blindly support Israel through what it’s become. I am entirely more comfortable with having a brutal enemy than I am with my own kind evolving into something that is morally indefensible.
As an American, I want to protect the interests of my country. I no longer believe that supporting Israel is in our best interest. I understand that we need a strong ally in the middle ease, but I also understand that our alliance with Israel is the primary reason for that need. I strongly believe that Netanyahu’s path is ultimately destructive to Israel, and that if they want to continue down this path, they should do it without the support of the US.
I want Israel to veer off this course of self destruction. I want my family to be able to live happy, peaceful lives. Loving someone means telling them when they’re wrong.
My objectivity leads me to conclude that I really don’t care which brutal government has control of the land currently known as Israel.