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Point of View: Be Visionary and Vigilant

Wed, 03/20/2024 - 20:27

I read not long ago a book that my high school chat group's leader said might help clarify the Palestinian-Israeli question, and, not surprisingly, found it to be byzantine. 

You almost wish that the Ottoman Empire, as rickety as it was, had remained intact, that it had not been carved up by the winners of World War I. If more attention had been paid by those powers then, Britain chiefly, then perhaps we'd be paying less attention, less riveted now.  

Yet how do you reach a rapprochement between groups who have been at odds for centuries? 

There was hope in the aftermath of that first world war that Zionists and Arabs in Palestine would get along — Chaim Weizmann thought they could, Churchill thought they could — especially given the Zionists' intent to make the desert bloom and thus improve all lives. What happened? My book left off at the settlement of 1922. I've got a century more to read about. And what then? Will I be any wiser?

" 'I'm not committing genocide, I just want to kill everyone,' " I said a few weeks ago to Mary, pretending for a moment that I was Netanyahu. Over the top? Sure, but you do wonder. How many more civilians are to be killed before he can say truly that Hamas will never again be a thorn in Israel's side? And, as Jon Stewart said recently, how can you kill an idea? The only way, to state the obvious, is for Israelis and Gazans to begin thinking of each other as human beings rather than as ciphers — a revolutionary idea perhaps, but, it is hoped, one that, should it ever take hold at the instance of a new generation of Israelis and Palestinians, will not be killed.

In the meantime, stop the bombing, feed the many who are starving, care for the many who are suffering, repatriate the hostages, stop thrusting more settlements into the West Bank, where they never should have been, interpose an international peacekeeping force between the Gaza Strip and Israel if need be, work out a two-state solution, and be visionary and vigilant. 

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