Thursday, 8 October 2015

How I became Pro-Palestinian and why it matters

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I began doing some research and, about a year later, discovered Gideon Levy. Seeing an Israeli eloquently defend Palestinians and criticize Israeli policies and actions made it clear to me that there was not an Israeli and a Palestinian side to this “conflict,” but a right side and a wrong side.
Now I was determined to go see for myself. After a work opportunity appeared and a few months later, I was in Palestine. Like so many visitors, I was simultaneously overwhelmed by the friendliness, hospitality, thoughtfulness and gentleness of the Palestinian people and horrified by the excruciating injustice of their situation.
I was also stunned to see just how much I had been lied to all my life. The gates of Auschwitz were etched in my mind, yet I had never seen the gates, walls, guard towers and barbed wire that now surrounded me. “Bypass roads,” “flying checkpoints,” Kafkaesque permits required for seemingly everything wove a reality of which I had been told nothing. The Settlements looked less like “Little House on the Prairie” than like massive state-sponsored condos.
The infuriating stories every Palestinian had to tell were matched by the stories of foreign aid workers as well as my own observations. The taxi drivers at Ben Gurion (basically the only Israelis I spoke with), oblivious to the reality they drove through daily, spouted ignorance and stereotypes, even as the Palestinian drivers at work educated me on the complexities and nuances of Israeli society.
One of my first realizations was that Israel did not want peace; they wanted the land, and they did not want the local inhabitants. The map of the West Bank in my Palestinian boss’s office read like a death certificate for the two-state solution. The “Peace Process” was all process and no peace. This was a Colonial conquest in full swing, very calculatingly waged to balance attainment of the goal (“Greater Israel”) with dampening of foreign criticism. Furthermore, this was not confined to single administration, but intrinsic to Israeli policy, both Right and Left, going back for decades.

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