I was in Israel in 1995 when Israel announced their expansion into the west bank. I was stunned by the positions of the locals on the whole situation.
No matter how many ways I turn this current bout of violence, I find fault with Israel. This doesn't mean I don't find fault with Palestine. Still, I have real trouble listening to Israelis claim that Palestinians are denying their right to exist. Yes, Israel, as a nation, has been persecuted - just slightly less than Palestine as a nation. I have no sensible resolution to the current situation. It was hatched in the addled brains of the post WWII leaders, and it is, and always was, horrific. Yet I just can't get past Palestine's right to exist. I don't believe that right gives them leave to fire rockets into Israel. But if you create several generations of disenfranchised people, you run the risk of violent, insane behaviour. After all, as Israel's foreign minister said, Israel has far superior fire power and will hurt Palestine far more than Palestine can hurt Israel. And in the end, this is the essence of this debate. Israel is the bully here, by sheer weight of fire power. Just like Israel deserved a homeland, so does Palestine. And a real one, not one divided and ruled by others.
What I saw in the old city of Jerusalem has affected me deeply. Much to my surprise. I expected to be untouchable by such things as trivial as religion. Instead it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Christianity came off worst. A bunch of juvenile, demented people worshipping a figure that has been used to justify immeasurable violence. I'm not saying this exemplifies Christianity everywhere in all its forms, that's just how it looks in Jerusalem. Then there are the Jews - they look desperate and clingy. Telling their own history in a way that looks like they won as many as they lost. Again, I know this doesn't represent Jews in general. And then in the old city, there were the Muslims, drinking coffee, living their lives. They looked sane. Of course, they were also the ones who refused to return my lost purse until I had returned to Tel Aviv so that they could charge me US$100 for the privilege of bringing it back to me. I don't hold any illusions. I guess the point is, that disaster is nothing about religion, and all about politics. It tells us nothing about Christianity or Judaism or Islam. Just about people being territorial and stupid.
In the end, Israel has the upper hand, they are the bullies. It is in their hands to solve this problem. And I have no doubt that violence towards Israel from Palestine will continue for a long time to come. It isn't justifiable, but it's understandable. If you imagine your entire life being taken from you, and staying that way for a few generations, it might take a while for the anger to subside. Israel and Palestine have a great deal in common. If they could get past their religious sibling rivalry, it seems they should be great mates. It also seems intentionally aggressive from Israel to refuse to recognise these people's right to exist. Therefore, despite my revulsion for the violent tactics, I will find myself on Palestine's side in this mess, because they have no power and no choice. I will always support those with no power and no choice.