Although the strife within Israel has been overshadowed in the last couple of months due to media focus on Iraq, I predict that certain factors will cause issues involving Israel to surface in the near future. Groups on both sides, Zionist and anti-Zionist, will relate the conflict with Iraq to their own views on Israel.
I have come to reject organized religion as a personal and ideological choice for myself. I was still given a full Jewish upbringing, including attending Hebrew school for 12 years.
However, I am against the policies of the Israeli government, United States support of this government and their policies, and ultimately question the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
After the Holocaust, there were a large amount of Jewish refugees who were unable or unwilling to return to Europe. The Allies did not want to be inundated with these Jews, so they pushed for the creation of a Jewish state in 1948 to house the refugees.
However, 750,000 indigenous Palestinians had been living in the newly consecrated nation since the time of the Ottoman Empire.
When the Israelis entered, the Palestinians were either forcibly expelled from their homes or simply fled in terror at the sight of the powerful Israeli militias, who were soon to become the Israeli Army.
Although the U.N. mandated that the Israeli government pay reparations to these displaced Palestinians, they have yet to pay anything.
A second issue is the military occupation of the territories. In the War of 1967, Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
They are forced to pass through humiliating military checkpoints. The checkpoints impede the transit of things such as food, medicine and even ambulances rushing to the hospital.
These are only a few examples of the acts of oppression committed against the Palestinian people.
These acts are not publicized anywhere close to the extent to which the American mass media highlights the acts of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Palestinian suicide bombers kill innocent people. However, the fact that the only solution they see is to kill themselves, along with Israelis, demonstrates the hopelessness of their situation.
And, to make matters worse, the Israelis respond to these attacks with brutal force against the Palestinian community from which the bomber came.
I am embarrassed to hear Zionist Jews speak about maintaining control of Israel at any cost, especially since the history of Jews since recorded time has been one of oppression.
From the repercussions surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, to the Crusades, to the Holocaust, Jews have traditionally been on the receiving end of persecution.
It is boggling how in 1948, only a few short years after the liberation of the concentration camps, Jewish people could occupy the land of an indigenous people and use terror to force them into ghettos.
History teaches us that in order to justify the oppression of a group of people, they must first be dehumanized in the eyes of the general population of the would-be oppressors.
Slavery in America was justified to the majority of Americans, because blacks were portrayed as three-fifths of a human being.
The Holocaust was justified to the Nazis because the Jews were not members of the so-called “master race.”
And the oppression of the Palestinians is justified because they are portrayed by many leaders in the Jewish community, the corporate mass media (news, television, movies) and by everyday people as bloodthirsty terrorists and killers.
Because Palestinians, Muslims and other people of Arab descent are given this subhuman status, the dominant Israelis are able to kill innocent people, steal land and property and subjugate the Palestinians with little consequence.
Non-Jews who speak out against the Israeli government and U.S. support of the Israelis are labeled as anti-Semites. Jews who speak out against Israel are accused of being self-hating.
These accusations imply that being Jewish and Zionist is one in the same. This is most certainly not the case.
Jews, and also non-Jews, need to apply the lessons of history to the current crisis in Israel.
Jews as a people need to acknowledge that what is happening to the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis is morally and legally wrong. Jews, of all people, should know how the hand of oppression feels, and begin to change policies and mindsets regarding the Palestinian people.