Hillel Damron
Writer, filmmaker and blogger

The Train Has Left the Station

Or perhaps the plane has taken off. Either way, that vehicle – the Palestinian State vehicle – is on its way to New York, to the United Nations Security Council, and from there to the General Assembly. Should it not reach its destination there, and will not achieve the needed approval and legitimation of creating a state of its own for its people, that plane will head back home, but will sure to stop on the way in Europe, at the Hague specifically, where it will ask to join the International Criminal Court in order, through that court, of enforcing sanctions on Israel that would bring about that same result: a Palestinian state. Should that attempt fail – and it probably would – the train will head back to the station, and the plane back to the airport. And then, instead of a state living in relative freedom and security side by side with Israel, all hell will break loose.

Here’s why: Israel, its leaders and people – every people deserve their leaders, the old saying goes – are not going to give the Palestinian people a state of their own. This phantom is gone, as far as they are concerned. And, from the look of it, no force exists – at least not in the Israeli political arena – that can force a different outcome any time soon. An autonomy in Gaza and the West Bank – yes; financial and economical aid – yes; meaningless rhetoric about human rights and equality under the law here and there – yes. A state – no way!

Will Europe stand for it – no. Through its courts, through its economical power, through its human rights bodies, its countries, separately and jointly, will all condemn Israel as a de facto apartheid state. It may judge its leaders and army generals in the aforementioned I.C.C., will issue sanctions, and may make it very difficult for some of Israel’s leaders, and maybe for its people as well, to visit European countries. Cultural and sports ties will suffer greatly as result, and would threaten Israel with complete isolation. At the same time, unfortunately so, anti-Semitic forces in Europe might grow in strength, and would put the lives of the Jewish population in jeopardy. How long will Israel be able to sustain this kind of pressure remains to be seen, and will partly be influenced by how much pressure America will put to bear.

So will America, finally, put real pressure on Israel? Fifty-fifty chance, I’d say. Currently, and in the near future when the Palestinian delegation will be in New York, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that President Obama will say enough is enough and that, at last, he will see the need – and obligation! – to save Israel from itself, and will side with the “yes” vote, or maybe abstain in the UN Security Council, therefore he will enable the Palestinian vehicle to return home carrying the goods: a much needed legitimization to force Israel to finally see the light and act accordingly. Fat chance, but still a thin possibility. If not, the next president might, or might not, do the same. But the pressure from Europe and the rest of the world upon America will only grow. So much so that, sooner or later, it will crack down and join the moving caravan.

And what about American Jewry? There are some indications that the ranks of the closed-minded loyalists – Israel can do no wrong, no matter the crime – is getting older and is dwindling in numbers. At the same time, those same indications suggest that the ranks of the open-minded supporters – Israel is doing some wrong, and we need to help it recognize that – are getting younger and larger. Many liberal Jews, of all ages and generations, have begun to question Israel’s actions and therefore its survivability. Some of them work to change it. But among the young in particular, among the Jewish students in the universities throughout the land, the apathy on the one hand, and the rage against the machine on the other – the machine being the Jewish establishment, and/or the Israeli government – is growing and, ultimately, bound to influence public opinion in Jewish America and in America as a whole.

Which bring me back to Israel and to the Middle East, with its turmoil and legions of Muslim extremists. Here we have the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and the Israeli Arabs to boot – who surely will not stand for it; i.e. Netanyahu’s status quo while the settlement endeavor continues. And so, even if Israel maintains its upper, iron-fisted hand over the Arab population successfully, the bloodshed will not come easy – as we sadly have experienced and witnessed lately – and might have a longer effect on Israel’s Jewish population and society. Because, you see, desperate people are much better equipped for desperate acts, and are much more willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause and die for it. Regular folks, who want to live in peace, want to prosper economically, who need art and sports and entertainment and technology – not only religion and fanaticism – to enlighten and enrich their lives, are in much worse position to sacrifice their lives. They might pack up and leave, as some are already doing.

This war is sure to come. And the hell, too. Maybe a “United Kingdom of the Holy Land,” based on the formula of the United Kingdom of Britain – i.e. Israel, Palestine and Gaza as separate autonomies, but united as one country, with a shared capital in Jerusalem – is the way to go. But that, perhaps, is a topic for a future article.

About the Author
Hillel Damron is the author of novels, essays, and short stories—one which won the 2011 ‘Moment Magazine Memoire Contest.’ He studied films at the ‘London Film School’ and became the film director of TV documentaries, a feature film, and video shorts. He was the Executive Director of the ‘Hillel House at UC Davis'. He was an elite IDF paratroops unit officer who was wounded in battle; he was born in kibbutz Hephzibah to parents who survived the Holocaust.