Wednesday 10 August 2016

So, where do you stand on Israel-Palestine?

There must be a formula for working out how long it takes between finding out someone is Jewish and asking them about Israel-Palestine. If there is not, might I humbly suggest Levy's Law:

"Once you've found out someone is Jewish, the chance you ask him/her about Israel-Palestine increases exponentially until it becomes virtually certain."

This is not a criticism at all, far from it. Jews, rightly or wrongly, carry an important responsibility in the eyes of others when it comes to Israel. Perhaps not to justify or explain Israel's actions, though one might try, but to justify or explain one's position. And maybe it comes from an internalised anti-Semitism that says Jews cannot be loyal to their country of birth/naturalisation or that their loyalty primarily is to Israel and therefore they have, presumably a positive, opinion on Israel. Both loyalty tropes, of course, are false. I suspect, however, it comes from a genuine desire to gain a better understanding. After all, those with their minds made up would not ask, they would merely tell.

But I do not care what the reason is. What matters is they asked and what matters more, I think, is my response. And my response, perhaps long-winded and convoluted in those discussions, is actually remarkably simple:

"Please remember that for every single news article you read on one side, there is a corresponding one on the other; for every single "fact" thrown at you, there is a corresponding "fact" that disputes it; for every statistic, for every argument, for every claim, for every damn thing you can say about the entire conflict there is a corresponding response."

Perhaps it is even simpler. Perhaps I just mean don't believe anything you read. Such is the way with complicated conflicts that are little to do with what armchair activists will have you believe they are about. We could get into a really nuanced discussion about what Israel and what the Palestinians need to do and believe me it would not get us anywhere. We could prove Israel acts disproportionately or we could prove that Israel does not and believe me, it would not get us anywhere. I could spend the next hour going through everything the questioner has read from "pro-Palestinian" sources and offer the response or, where required, state you cannot defend the indefensible and believe me, yes you guessed it, it would not get us anywhere.

So I don't bother with any of that. That anti-Israel activism and opinion so often spills over into anti-Semitism, that modern-day anti-Semites have a more acceptable hate to hide behind requires all of us to stand up and speak out against it. But beyond that, I am sick and tired of this all. Sick and tired of the world's focus on one conflict. Sick and tired of being told that Israel does this or does that. Sick and tired of being told that the Palestinians do this or do that. Sick and tired of the whole damn thing because really, when you look beyond the hate, there are Daniels and Ahmeds; Rivkas and Fatimas; and a whole bunch of others that just want to earn money to buy groceries to feed their families and, ideally, not be shot at by anyone.

And really, it is as simple and, perhaps, as complicated as that.

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