In response to a blog entry by Marc Goldberg entitled ‘Please Not Another Intifada’, I feel the need to respond via a blog post and not just as a ‘body of opinion’ sitting in the annals of the comment gallery.
Firstly, I’d like to compliment Marc on a well written and truly heartfelt piece. It is clear that Marc’s firsthand experience while serving in the IDF, has given him a view that many people do not get to see and is a view that is not publicly known.
It must be awful to be a Palestinian wanting to live an ordinary peaceful life while co-existing with the Jewish State of Israel. I couldn’t begin to imagine what I would do as a Jew if there were numerous countries in the world where Judaism was the religion of the country, but entry to any one of these countries was refused to me by members of my own religious family. I couldn’t imagine living as a Jew in a country where my own family and my belongings were used as a form of human defense. I couldn’t imagine the fear I would have if the leaders of my country preached to my children of the benefits of martyrdom.
If I lived in a country where I had no hope, no chance of work and was rife with the majority of my fellow countrymen living below the poverty line I simply don’t know what I would do. If I had read that my government had received $3.7 billion since 2008, in aid to assist with housing, poor living conditions and to boost the economy, but conditions in the way people live had not changed and in fact, had only become gradually worse in that time, I would be on the brink of desperation. I would probably be unable to even think rationally.
A meeting of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the United States Congress which took place on 10 July 2012, titled “Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment,” stated that there is serious corruption within the political establishment of the Palestinian Authority and in financial transactions. At this hearing experts, analysts, and specialists testified on corruption within financial transactions concerning Mahmoud Abbas, his sons Yasser and Tareq, and the Palestine Investment Fund, among others, as well as on the limiting of freedom of the press, crushing political opposition, and cracking down on protestors. According to Representative Steve Chabot, who testified at the hearing, “Reports suggest that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, like his predecessor Yassir Arafat, has used his position of power to line his own pockets as well as those of his cohort of cronies, including his sons, Yasser and Tareq. The Palestinian Investment Fund, for example, was intended to serve the interests of the Palestinian population and was supposed to be transparent, accountable, and independent of the Palestinian political leadership. Instead it is surrounded by allegations of favoritism and fraud. Concerning Abbas’ children, Chabot stated that “Even more disturbingly, Yasser and Tareq Abbas—who have amassed a great deal of wealth and economic power—have enriched themselves with U.S. taxpayer money. They have allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in USAID contracts.” – (Source Wikipedia)
If I lived in a Hamas controlled region, where recognition of the right of a Jewish State did not even exist, let alone the chance of peace with the neighboring entity, who could I possibly blame for the squalid conditions in which I lived? If an Israeli soldier came into my home, while searching for terrorists and stayed in my home for ten days, I would be sorely tempted to kill him in his sleep.
But back to reality. I live in one of the smallest, if not the smallest countries in the world. A country which was close to desolation after thousands of years of occupation by almost every empire under the sun, including the British Empire in its most recent history, but has managed to become one of the foremost players in the world of hi-tech, bio-tech, patents and start-ups. Despite being surrounded on every border by enemy countries hungry for the destruction of the country now known as Israel, life goes on.
My father fled Poland and from the Holocaust sweeping across Europe and my mother’s parents and grandparents fled the pogroms of Russia for a better life in England. They grew up in a world where they were told too often “Jew go home!” even before there was an Israel and Jews had a home to go to.
Now Jews have a home. I live in it and so do my children. I don’t always agree with the leaders of this country, but I live in a world where I can say that openly without fearing a death penalty. Since moving to Israel fourteen years ago I have always maintained, when questioned on the dangers of living in Israel by my friends in the Diaspora, ‘it is better to be collectively hated than individually victimized’. I bring up my children with respect and understanding for everyone, including our cousins both inside and outside of our borders. In six years from now, my son will go to the Israeli army and even now I dread that day. I do not know who will be the political leaders of Israel in six years and I hope that the decisions made in the back rooms of the Knesset do not end up playing games with the lives of our children.
All over the Arab world we have witnessed an Arab Spring in the past few years. Many evil dictatorships have been overthrown and replaced. One of the only views shared by the old regimes and the new regimes ‘springing’ up, is that there is no place on this planet for a State of Israel.
The bottom line is that I don’t have the answer for peace in the Middle East. But with that said, I also feel no guilt at the measures taken by my country in order to give my family a safe place to live. I can empathize, sympathize and even eulogize for the plight of the poor Palestinians, but, in the words of Golda Meir, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”