Blue Heron in flight

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Middle East gambit

One of the nicest people I met at the Grass Valley show happened to be a Palestinian man, a little younger than I. 

He was there with his sons. I asked him if he was Jordanian and he said he was actually Palestinian. We looked like cousins.

He was genuinely warm and friendly, like the great majority of Palestinians that I meet.

In fact, most Palestinians that I have encountered have more tolerance for the Israeli government than I do. 

They know what it means to have Islamic radicals like Hamas and Hezbollah running the show. Not good.

Anyway we had a delightful conversation. He is from Jerusalem, hasn't been back in forty five years.

I am also a Palestinian I suppose in that my father was born in Palestine and came to this country before Israeli statehood. Both he and my grandfather had Palestinian passports. What does that make me?

I was selling a painting to a conservative man later on in my trip and I mentioned my positive interaction with the Palestinian. The man scoffed and said, "What, one of the ten of them over there that are any good?"

He is mistaken. Many of them are good, in fact the great majority, Muslim and Christian alike. I worked with these people in Israel, I ate with them, I got to know them on a daily basis. Human beings, just like you and me. 

But if you have never been to the country and have been spoon fed the dehumanizing palaver about evil arabs dished out by Faux News, you would never understand that I suppose. It is a shame.

I love Israel and I love Palestine. My hope is that there is a two state solution somewhere that respects the lives and dignity of each, if it is not too late.

Of course Hamas started the latest war in the most dastardly manner. And managed to change the global paradigm in terms of Israel. The progressive left never wants to give October 7th more than the slightest recognition, the mass murder and hostage taking, preferring to focus on the ridiculously disproportionate Israeli response.

I think that Israel has made a grave and fatal error here, clearly it has lost the battle of world opinion, somewhat unfairly in some sense. It thinks that it can win a "war" against its foes even if it means slaughtering all of the people it essentially holds perpetually captive in Gaza.

This hubris will be their undoing. Netanyahu's courting of MAGA America has alienated many of Israel's oldest Jewish supporters in the Democratic party. Now that party is undergoing its own internecine conflict with the progressive millennials, many of whom abhor Israel and wouldn't bat an eyelash if it was extinguished by its sworn enemies.

It puts some of us in a strange position. A known Fallbrook Trumper accosted me yesterday, asked me how I liked the democratic party making nice with the people who want to destroy Israel? I wasn't sure how to respond and said "Only half of them," somewhat sadly and sheepishly.

The truth is that many American Jews have long been turned off by hard right Israeli governments that have done their best to squash meaningful peace solutions with the Palestinians. 

Of course Israelis are at the point of the spear in a very dangerous neighborhood and don't have the luxury to wax prosaically and pontificate when many of their neighbors have sworn and vowed to do them in. A whole new existential reality is certainly in play over there. I have been under fire from both Scuds and Katyushas in Israel and the conceptual platitudes have a way of falling away when the bombs are in the air.

The middle east is all about the masterful endgame, both sides are expert chess or shachmat שַׁחְמָט players. No matter how many people are killed on either side it's really about the win, right?

Both sides also unfortunately sometimes forget that we are all human beings.

Shalom aleichem and In sh'allah. Pray for peace in Jerusalem and the whole region.

1 comment:

vlad said...

Best post you’ve made in ages.