With the United Nations passing a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Barack Obama being condemned for what comes across as stabbing Israel in the back, at least to some commentators, I just want to say that, what it comes to the whole mess in the West Bank I don’t especially care for either side, and I can’t find myself in the good conscience to support them.
On the one hand, you have the nation state of Israel. Israel is not exactly a theocracy in the same sense that many other surrounding Middle Eastern nations are. It defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state”. What is meant by a “Jewish state” seems to have more to do with Jewish ethnicity and cultural heritage than the religion of Judaism, especially considering that Israel is technically a secular nation. That spirit appears to emanate from the Israeli Proclamation of Independence, which makes few appeals to the divine and is ultimately focused on the idea that Jews as an ethnic group have the right to their own sovereign nation-state. Yet even then, I get the sense that there is reference to the dream of Israel that was envisioned a religious sense, particularly towards the end. In some respects Israel can be seen as a nation whose claim of the right to its land seems to stem primarily from “God” – or rather, the premise that the Israelites were Jehovah’s chosen people and that Israel and the West Bank make up part of the land that was promised to him by that deity. At any rate, I sincerely doubt that the Jews of Israel believe in the right to their sovereign land based entirely on their ethnicity. After all, again, their land was supposedly promised to them by their sky deity. Not just Israel, but all of the territory that encompasses what is referred to as the “Promised Land”. So to me, the idea of Israel conquering land from Palestine, if that’s actually what they are doing, is not that big of a surprise to me, nor would any closet (or not even that closet) religious motivations for such activities. It’s also not lost on me there is a religious dimension to the support of Israel from Christians and the American right, drawing from the idea that if Israel taking back the Holy Land would amount to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Nor is the fact that Israel’s current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the same man who urged the United States in support of the Iraq War, promising that if America took out Saddam Hussein the result would be “enormous positive reverberations” across Iraq, and of course, we all know how the Iraq War turned out. It’s also worth noting that Israel has actually spied on the United States, and may well have hacked the French presidential palace, in order to acquire secrets from the United States as well as ascertain its private position on Middle Eastern affairs, such as the Iran nuclear deal. Israel is also a state that has nuclear weapons, but has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Not to mention, the Israeli army sometimes winds up killing civilians by accident, such as in the infamous beach bombings in 2014 where the Israeli army killed some children while intending to take out insurgents.
Then there’s Palestine. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist organization that is totally opposed to the notion of Israel’s very existence. I’m not kidding. Just look at their charter. They believe that Palestine belongs to the Muslims, and they oppose any recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a state and they believe that the Arab-Israel conflict is a religious conflict between Islam and Judaism over the Holy Land. They also believe that Jews are evil and plotting to take over the world. When Israel originally left Gaza in 2005, Hamas took power in the Gaza and they have attacked Israel through rocket fire, believing themselves to be avenging abuses carried out by Israel. I suspect that continued attacks on Israel by Hamas have lead to Israel instituting the blockade in the first place. The blockade itself imposes a strict limitation on goods being imported to and exported from Palestine, and Israel has tight control over the borders. I’m not gonna lie, for the Palestinians in Gaza this is a raw deal. But I can’t help but think that this is basically Hamas’ fault because they have constantly attacked Israel. Hamas isn’t exactly the friend of the Palestinian people either. They are accused of using civilians of human shields, and have at one point imposed a curfew in Gaza and shooting anyone who was out on the streets at night. Hamas hasn’t done much to alleviate the misery experienced by ordinary people in Gaza caused by the blockade, which Israel erected because of them, to the point that many Palestinians have actually fled to Israel preferring being put in Israeli prisons over living free in Gaza – no doubt this is because Hamas are more concerned with destroying Israel than the welfare of the Palestinian people. True to its Islamist character, Hamas has also imposed gender segregation in schools and given the police more direct control over educational institutions. Oh, and those kids who died at that beach in Gaza City? Hamas did not do anything to help their family. I think this might be because the family was a clan affiliated with Fatah, the secular nationalist faction that controls the West Bank area of Palestine which also happens to be one of Hamas’ enemies or rivals.
I consider neither side to be particularly worthy of moral sympathy – one side believes that it is their God-given right to rule over a land that they believe was promised to them by that same God, so they are committed to having control over that land and thus don’t exactly care about the people who are in their land, while the other believes that is their God-given right to rule over the same land and they want to take that land by force and make it into an Islamic country, and they don’t care for the people who live in the land they currently control and are arguably more authoritarian than the entity they claim to be the oppressor. Gaza, under Hamas, is probably slightly worse due to Hamas having started Gaza’s woes in the first place, but I have no love for Israel. If I would take their side on anything, it is only for the sake of stopping Islamists from achieving anything. Beyond that, I don’t really appreciate either side in this conflict.