Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Greater Story

I've seen a bunch of people linking to this story, written by a person named Leon de Winter. While I can understand the initial attraction to such a story, it actually makes me pretty uncomfortable. It took me some time to figure out why.

What stuck out most glaringly was the incredibly insular way de Winter deals with the issue in the Middle East. What is going on now in Gaza is taken completely out of context of the greater history of Israel, which is part of the problem with the way many people unconnected with the situation also view it, as highlighted in many of the comments.

"Our neighbor lives in the house in which our grandfather used to live. He claims he bought the first part of the house from a Turki, and later the second part from a British bank, but that doesn’t make the sale any less illegal: my family lived in that house for hundreds of years and we don’t accept the documents of sale."

That is how de Winter begins his story, yet he fails to mention that Jews have been living in Israel for hundreds of years, too. What happened to the early pioneers? Why no mention of them? By the way, Jews have always, for thousands of years, lived in Jerusalem.

The issue in the Middle East between Israel and the Arabs is much too involved and complex to be isolated into individual stories. They're not individual stories at all. They are one long plot point: the Arabs* cannot stand that we Jews exist and are thriving in Israel.

Many of the comments are horribly disturbing and show incredible ignorance in the general society out there. They are seriously not worth repeating, but if you'd like to take a look, brace yourselves. People think they are such authorities on what is going on in Gaza right now and on the whole Palestinian issue, when really they have absolutely no clue. It makes me wonder how often people take sides on any issue they are not personally connected with and how quick they can be to judge without knowing all the facts.

The one rebuttal I feel is worth repeating here is this:

"Could you please tell me why the Palestinians never demanded a country from Jordan or Egypt when they controlled the west bank and Gaza until 1967 ?
How come they only demand land from Israel ?
Is it because there was no such thing as Palestinian people prior to that time ?"


Bingo.

Do I believe in killing innocent Palestinian civilians? Of course not. Do I believe in Israel doing everything in its power to eradicate Palestinian terrorists? Yes. Do I think all Palestinians are terrorists? Of course not. Do I think that this cease fire is just a time for the terrorists to re-arm? Yes.

We gave them Gaza and the Palestinians sent us rockets as a thank you present. How sweet. It would be naive of a person to think that Israel holding its fire will stop all the violence, especially since the violence does not begin with Israel.

I don't think a person could do justice to what is going on in the Middle East in one short story. It would take an entire novel, I'd think. Either way, there was something uncomfortable about that story. I also take issue with this:

"Every now and then our neighbor gets fed up with our stone-throwing — those are the best moments. Then he storms out of our grandfather’s house and smashes our kitchen or bathroom or refrigerator to pieces."

That's an inaccurate representation of Israeli attacks on Gaza. Israel does not attack to "get back at" Palestinians, the way the story makes it sound. It does not smash their "kitchen or bathroom or refrigerator to pieces." Israel attacks terrorists. It's not interested in revenge. It is interested in self-defense. A truer representation would have the neighbor trying to put a stop to either the stone-throwing or the stone-thrower, not random attacks on pieces of furniture. Yes, many Palestinian civilians unfortunately have gotten killed and homes have been destroyed, but that has not been the purpose of Israel's attacks. Israel does not aim for innocent civilian life the way terorrists do. Israel does the best it can to avoid such things, sending out warnings, etc. But at the end of the day, Israel also has a responsibility to protect itself and its citizens, and if terrorists are using human shields, Israel has no choice but to act despite that. Ezzie explains this idea further, so I'm not going to do it here.

I think that one of the most important things to do is to be educated about Israel, its history, and what's really going on right now, and to make sure others are educated, as well. At the very least, checking what's being written at Jameel's blog or HonestReporting can help dust off the cobwebs of bias, false reporting, and inaccurate representations of Israel and the war.

May there be peace, soon.

*Yes, I know I'm not being properly politically correct and I'm generalizing. Obviously I don't think every single individual Arab hates Jews, but enough Arabs in the Middle East have given us trouble that I think it's safe to say there's an issue there.

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