Search this site:

Israeli mistakes

Reading Jordi’s blog, I cannot but agree with him (in most points): I plainly cannot understand Israel’s actions in the last weeks. I can sadly understand how some people defend them, specially people not living in Israel - I was talking with a friend today, a friend who does not share a single political viewpoint with me, but still… The world seems to be completely polarized. Some have the impression that Israelis live under constant shelling, that life is unsustainable in that poor country, the last corner of civilization in that mess called the Middle East, and that the Arab countries (which are huge and petroleum-rich) just want to throw Jews to the sea or worse. The rest of the world think that Israelis are mass-murderers who decided to take a heavily populated bit of land and martyrize its originary population by any possible means, establishing an Apartheid. Both views are false. But of course, both views hold their bits of truth. I cannot claim to be neutral on this: Although I lived there in total for ~18 months, I am an Israeli by choice (I adopted the Israeli nationality in 1996 and wanted to live my life there - I came back to Mexico for personal reasons, and I later decided to stay here). I have not been to Israel since then - But I try to keep myself informed. And, living in a Jewish family, it’s hard not to be somewhat informed - and of course, shocked at your relatives’ opinions. Jews outside Israel tend to be right-wingers. I lived in a kibbutz, and I still sympathyze with Meretz, the most leftwing Zionist party. I won’t restate what Jordi eloquently said. I know not everybody who reads my blog reads Jordi’s as well - Please do. If you missed it some lines above, here is the link. I insist: I agree with most of what he wrote. What could Israel do to protect itself from its enemies? The answer is simple: Don’t give them a reason to hate you. One year ago, I was optimistic because Israel was heading the right way. Of all people, Ariel Sharon (one of Israel’s most hawkish, right-wing strongmen of all times) decided to withdraw from Gaza, and hinted that areas in the West Bank would follow. No, not the best way possible, not as his predecessor Menahem Begin did with Egypt leading to a strong and long lasting peace, and certainly not in the very notable way Itzhak Rabin did with Jordan, getting peace and even friendship. But at least, Sharon accepted the reality, and seemed he meant to let Palestinians build their state. When he organized a new party which reduced Likud to a shadow of its past, one of Israel’s most prominent figures for the peace camp, Shimon Peres, joined. Amazing. But still, there is too much hatred. Of course, life in Gaza is plainly not sustainable. You can walk the Gaza strip side to side in less than one hour, and North to South it’s less than 50 Km long. Still, over 400,000 people live in there. The area is simply unsustainable. Gaza depends for everything from Israel. Of course, according to the never-stable security status, the border between Gaza and Israel opens or closes every day. When I lived in Zikim, mostly every day there were five or six Arabs working with us… Except for the days when they weren’t there. And, of course, Israel also depends on the Arabs for much of its hard labor jobs (as it’s always the case when two economically disparate populations live together). Anyway, back on track: Besides giving the Arabs their slice of land (which in a squeezed area as Israel is always hard; people have fought for such small spaces it’s hard to believe), the only thing Israel can do is help them. It has worked before: Israeli Arabs (the Arabs living inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel) are full citizens. Yes, there is racism in the country towards them, and yes, they are not really equal with Jewish Israelis - But they have voting rights, they have the right to be elected, they can optionally join the army (it’s not compulsory as it is with the Jewish population), and they get government aid. Arab towns are poorer than Jewish towns, yes, but they have their dignity. The problem in Gaza and South Lebanon (somewhat less so in the West Bank, but also) is that it’s plainly all made up of refugee camps. Refugees that were born there, and whose parents were born there as well. And, let me emphasize this, they are not Israel’s fault. The refugees fled the newborn Israel because the Arab states said (in May 1948) they would enter Palestine and butcher everybody, inviting Arab civilians to flee and then get back home - of course, 700,000 (out of 1,300,000 who lived in Palestine by then) Arabs did so. And when the Arabs lost the war, the Palestinians were denied citizenship by all the Arab countries except for Jordan (not surprisingly, the most stable of them all, and with which Israel has the closest relation). They were given refugee camps to live, one over the other. When Egypt signed the peace with Israel, it demanded back every inch of the Sinai - But not an inch of Gaza. And not a single Palestinian refugee. I agree here with Jordi as well: There is a huge military operation in Gaza, but it’s more spectacular in Lebanon today. The media talks about Lebanon, but not about Gaza. And the crisis in Gaza is not easier. But how can it be solved in a permanent way? Israel does neither have land to spare to give to the Palestinians - and even if it did, most of Gaza is surrounded by the Negev, a desert where it would not be easy for them to get anything better than what they have inside Gaza. As desirable as it would be to have a completely independent Palestinian state, Gaza would just remain a concentration camp. There is too much hatred, and neither Arabs nor Israelis want to keep working together, not trusting each other. The only solution I can find to this is to have an agreement with Egypt, where Egypt opens its border with Gaza, gives either nationality or work permits to Gazan Palestinians, and Israel injects capital to develop Northern Sinai, to give some hope of survival to the almost half million people. The same in Lebanon: Israel was widely applauded to withdraw from South Lebanon in 2000. The area is mostly peaceful - For ${DEITY}’s sake, what is the kidnapping of two soldiers in a six year period compared to soldiers being killed in the occupation army every week or two? Israel did well to leave Lebanon. Lebanon was starting an incredible national rebuilding process, as Robert Fisk tells us (Spanish only. I could find only the first paragraphs of the original English version, which appears to require subscription) of the wonders of the rebuilding process, reduced to rubble again. Of course, Israeli and Syrian armies left Lebanon. The Lebanese government and army are plainly too weak to care for the country. Hezbollah (which, indoubtely, is a terrorist entity, no matter how many benefical aspects it does have) have poured tremendous amounts of money to rebuild its area of influence, South Lebanon. Of course, they rebuilt, healed and educated with a strong ideological inclination, and that’s not good for Israel. What can Israel do to leasen the Islamist influence? Simple: Send aid. Don’t just leave. Don’t leave a void, don’t invite bad people to loot, don’t invite extremist people to recruite future bombers. Turn occupation into aid. Build hospitals. Build houses. Give money, give infrastructure. Do it behind your back, as you gave money to the South Lebanon Army for almost 20 years. But make the people see you don’t want to kill and rob them - Make the Lebanese Arabs feel their neighbour as a friend, although different. Bring back the good border. What’s that? That’s the nickname for the Lebanese border between +- 1950 and 1970 - The only border that was stable, that was not filled with hatred, where Israeli doctors treated Lebanese patients across the fence. And still today, the border is just a simple fence. How can you convince a people of not killing themselves to kill the invasor? Don’t act as an invasor. Act in all your best self-interest - Save them from poverty and from indignity.


Carles Muñoz Gorriz 2006-08-02 06:22:31

Re: Robert Fisk’s article

I’ve found it here:”>