Holier Than Thou: The Israel Dilemma (+pics)

14 Sep

I had the opportunity to tour Israel this summer (as mentioned a million times before this). I thought I would expand a little bit on my observations and conclusions after getting a first hand look at what really goes on in a place that is so misconstrued by, well, everyone.

As you may know, my moral centre lies in objectivity. My sister was telling me that in her grade seven class, one of the teachers was an ultra-xenophobe. Arabs? Bad. Israelis? Good. Of course nothing is black and white, and it’s disgraceful that someone would teach a group of vulnerable twelve year olds to be so ignorant. What I told my sister, which is the most basic life lesson, shocking that it’s hardly taught, is “there are two sides to every story”. That should elicit the response: “DUHHH”, but in certain contexts it rarely does.

Back to Israel-Palestine. Going to this tiny country bordering three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), it’s obvious why it’s so valuable from a trade perspective but it’s so much more than that.

There are a number of religious groups that reside in the country. Statistically speaking: Jewish 75.5%, Muslim 16.8%, Christian 2.1%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.9% (2008) Source – the largest cause for conflict and controversy.

The conflict, more specifically is over land ownership. Who has the right to be in the country? According to extremists on both sides (Palestinian and Israeli) only one group. The rest are fighting for the right to live in peace in their own respective states. Growth and movement is stunted by terrorism on one side, and stubbornness on the other.

Regardless of the hostility, traveling through Israel I didn’t feel scared or paranoid, as I thought I would. This may have been a different story if I was driving through the West Bank or the Gaza strip, but I wasn’t expecting to feel at ease like I did.

What most Israelis will tell you is this feeling of safety is because of the barriers that separate Israeli and Palestinian states. This separation bounded by checkpoints is what has led to many Palestinian and human rights groups calling the situation an “apartheid”. Though I don’t agree with this term specifically, I think there may be some merit in some of the arguments made regarding limits to mobility of Palestinians and the lack of freedoms that they do have.

I personally do not agree with the union of church and state, but I’m wary of Israel ever finding an alternative. Both sides will get in the way of progression. A two state solution may be the only way…if that too can ever happen.

My tour guide on the trip did say, however, that if there was not a need for the walls, he would be one of the first to take it down. The reality is, the barriers did eliminate a lot of the suicide bombings and rocket attacks towards Israeli settlements. But where do we draw the line?

What I would like to mention is what Israel is doing right, because credit is deserved:

  • Agriculture – From a desert to a beautifully cultivated land, Israel has become an export for produce and it has been able to maintain large green spaces on waterless land. The transformation from barren to bountiful is pretty unbelievable.
  • Technology – It’s one of the science and innovation centres of the world. Next time you plug your USB key in, remind yourself that it was invented by an Israeli. Pretty cool. Oh and Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 5 Israel natives.
  • Acceptance – though religions tend to clash on political matters, Israel encourages religious freedoms. Anyone can practice whatever they want without religious persecution–something its neighbouring countries do not grant to their inhabitants.

We can stick our noses up at this tiny country, and rightfully so in some cases, but there must be a reason why there are so many people fighting for this minuscule piece of land.

I wouldn’t call myself a Zionist, but I’m not an apartheid activist either.

I remain on my fence, waiting for peace to come. I better get comfortable. I’m afraid I’ll be waiting for a while.

More info:

Most recent news – Mideast talks in Egypt

The conflict in a nutshell

Wiki for science and technology in Israel

Wiki for the Israeli Apartheid argument

One Response to “Holier Than Thou: The Israel Dilemma (+pics)”

  1. admin. at 9:08 pm #

    I love your pictures you have here.

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