You can’t fight the Occupation if you don’t know the facts. Test your knowledge!
- What was the name of the Palestinian leader deposed by the Israelis at the time of the Occupation?
- How many years did Palestine exist as an independent state before the start of the Occupation?
- What were Palestine’s international borders (i.e. what nations bordered Palestine) before the Occupation?
- What was the name of the currency used in Palestine before the Occupation?
- When was Palestine occupied? Was it in 1967? 1948?
How did you do?
You probably didn’t do very well. Because, well, you can’t. People like to talk about the Israeli occupation of an independent Palestine. It makes great rhetoric. But unfortunately, it isn’t true. Israeli tanks never rolled into a country called “Palestine” and took over. It never happened.
The Gaza Strip and West Bank were Egyptian and Jordanian territories prior to 1967. Israel occupied those territories during the Six Day War. Egypt and Jordan didn’t want those territories returned when they signed peace agreements with Israel. And Israel didn’t leave Gaza or the West Bank.
Why didn’t Israel reach separate, final status, agreements with the people living in those areas? Good question. They signed a lot of agreements. They had a lot of discussions. The Israelis even pulled out of Gaza. But the situation isn’t resolved—not yet—and the reasons are complicated. Some people blame the Israelis. Some people blame the Palestinians. People have different perspectives; they look at the situation differently. That makes sense.
But that isn’t my point.
To perpetrate the myth of an independent Palestine, occupied by an evil Israel, is disingenuous. It’s wrong. It incites, it inflames the ignorant, and it does much to undermine the possibility of a true and lasting peace.
And notice that I didn’t say, “The myth of a Palestinian people.” Although—prior to the 1960s—when you said “Palestinian” you meant “Jew.” (An Arab from that region was called an “Arab.”) Today that doesn’t matter. Today’s 20-year-old Gazan, born in the 1990s, is a Palestinian. That is his identity. And despite history and semantics, that’s who he is. He has to be considered. To ignore him is hateful. You can’t push back the clock or pretend he is something he isn’t.
And that goes both ways.
You can’t scream about the Occupation, talk about 1967, but really mean the founding of the state in 1948. Israel is a reality, too. You may hate it. You may consider it a catastrophe. So what? Israel exists. And today’s Jew, born in Israel, is an Israeli. That’s his identity. He lives in Israel. You have to deal with that reality. To ignore that—or to call for Israel’s destruction—is hateful. You can’t make peace if you can’t accept reality. It doesn’t work that way.
Peace is built on mutual understanding, acceptance, cooperation, and respect. Those things go both ways. You have to accept the legitimacy of the other. You have to make room for the other. Name calling, hype, hyperbole, and misinformation don’t help. They demean the other side and make peace impossible. If you do those things, you aren’t interested in peace. You are the problem.
Don’t be the problem.
Disagree. Argue. It is ok to do that. But tell the truth.