There is such a thing as Palestine and I was standing in it today.
Technically speaking there is not a country called Palestine. However there is a peoplehood who identify as Palestinian Arabs. They live in what is technically called the Palestinian Authority territories.
They are not going anywhere.
Neither are the Israelis.
We are both here and the world needs to get over it.
In a court of law, truth is not a defense.
Regardless what the world believes about this region, we live the reality on the ground and we know the truth. We here in Israel do not require anyone’s permission to live the truth. Therefore, our truth is not a defense, but living here is.
Today I went to a place called Rawabi. It is a beautiful and affluent community built by Palestinian Arabs and Qatar money. Even though this is an amazing paradise in the West Bank (We Jews call it Judea and Samaria), it is uninhabited. I did not see one single resident or car while I was there.
There was an enormous Palestinian flag, a stunning sculpture garden and landscape.
There is no refugee camp in Rawabi. It is for the rich, elite and privileged Palestinians. These are the ones you will never read about. There are also, but not limited to, American Palestinians. These are allegedly their vacation homes.
As I drove through J&S I noticed all of the construction in what the world calls the West Bank. I was laughing to myself because the building is via the Palestinian Arabs. It is not the PA though (Palestinian Authority). To be clear, they are broke, but this is private money I observed.
Interesting… never thought of the term Palestinian settlements before. I wonder if Palestinian settlements are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East?
After this most instructive excursion, I went to Ramallah. I saw the Mukataa, which is the fortress that protects Mahmoud Abbas. Leaders often need fortresses to protect them from their own people. (Yes I know there are other reasons for a Mukataa.)
I saw Arafat’s mausoleum. I saw beautiful neighborhoods in Ramallah and of course the refugee camps. There are amazing restaurants and it is quite frankly a lovely Arab city.
As I made my way home back to Jerusalem where I live, I couldn’t help but gaze out the window longingly. I asked my host what would happen if he and I got a bunch of individuals together; Arab and Jew, Israeli and Palestinian and we bought a piece of land here in J&S (West bank). What if we hired our own private developer to build us our own neighborhood (settlement)? Why can’t there be a normal community that is not segregated? Why can’t we just create our own subdivision here in J&S and live together? Who is really going to stop us?
Presently we live across the street from each other. The way J&S (West bank) is structured you have Palestinian Arab communities on one side and across the street which they share is the Israeli side. So yes, there is some interaction, but not the way you would have a natural exchange if we were integrated into the same neighborhood.
My friend told me that depending where it is, the PA would never agree to allowing me to buy land and build if they discover I am Israeli and a Jew. Likewise the reverse is true. The Israelis would not sell to my friend when they discover he is a Palestinian Arab.
I really love living here. It is a wonderful and magical place. It is more diverse than anyone could imagine, yet there is one thing that annoys me- the segregation.
This is good old-fashioned racism on its face. There is no other word for it.
I am done discussing the “occupation,” the “settlements,” one state versus two state… it is old, the world is late with it and we here have outgrown these boring and unproductive circle jerk arguments.
Here in Israel and in the PA territories, we know what is really going on. No one is going to say it out-loud though. That’s fine I suppose…
I wonder if I would be labeled as a peace activist if my Israeli and Palestinian Arab friends attempted to go forward with this real-estate venture? How stupid, me a peace activist…
For crying out loud, we just want to be normal, we just want to live where we want to live, go where we want to go, talk to and hang out with whomever we chose.
Yet, our governments do not allow this. Or do they?
To be fair, I know for a fact that Israelis and the government itself have tried desperately to create opportunities for both sides to be together.
I remember during Sukkot how the mayor of Efrat invited people from the neighboring Palestinian village to join them. They did so, and of course they would because that is normal human behavior. Yet the PA was waiting to arrest them upon their return.
I wonder if Israelis are ever arrested for attending a dinner or a party at a Palestinian Arab’s house? Nope, never heard of it… although they would caution us for our safety, but that is the only context I can think of.
In the U.S. we went through the process of desegregation. In the 1970’s we implemented forced busing in order to put blacks and whites together in the classroom. This did not work well because it was ‘forced.’
When you are talking about bringing two different peoplehoods together, it must occur naturally and willfully. There must be a reason for both sides to want to make the choice to be together.
I also remember affirmative action in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This was of course more aggressive and it inadvertently caused reverse racism against whites.
People were not hired for jobs based on their qualifications, but on the color of their skin.
Eventually though, Americans got through these growing pains and it gave birth to a new generation of African Americans who would go to university, acquire jobs and become a part of the work force, thus contributing to American society.
When it comes to race relations it takes both sides to work together. Yet what if one side does not want to do this? It would appear that the side that is stronger, better equipped with resources and more socially advanced should be in a leadership role and thus lead by example. Yet what if said entity is too caught up in the distraction of say- 40,000 NGO’s who meddle in the day-to-day affairs here? What if said entity is preoccupied with the UN, the EU and the US to have the profound realization that this solution can only come from within, not externally?
The answer is clear.
This solution will come through bottom up leadership. The days of top down leadership are over… for now.
We the people are living the peace you think does not exist.
To be blunt, I am completely finished with reporting to social media the events of my day. The conversations I have with people who actually live here are in fact actual moments that take place in real time.
Yet people on Facebook who live on the other side of the world tell me that I am wrong. How can a real life experience be right or wrong? This is not an opinion issue- it is simply me sharing a moment of my life.
How can strangers lecture someone while sitting in the cushy diaspora with their handheld device be an expert on my life or Israeli life?
Do I quit sharing these amazing moments that happen to me?
Do I stop documenting the people and places I meet and listen to?
Do I cease to tell the world the truth about what is actually happening here on the ground?
People believe what they want. Willful ignorance is the new truth.
The conflict is not only a giant ATM machine where numerous entities profit, but the conflict here is also perpetuated by racism.
Arabs hate Jews and Jews do not trust the Arabs, therefore they have become bigoted. We have hate propaganda and reverse propaganda. For some Israelis it is a softer side of bigotry, for others it is open and unabashed. However many shades of bigotry there are, someone has to confront it.
It may as well be me since I give not one fuck.
Throughout my life I have learned that the secret to dealing with racism is a personal inventory, not an institutional one.
Deep inside every human being there is a tiny inner racist. That little inner racist must be kept in check at all times. If not then we ignore it and go into denial. This is where racism takes hold- in the silence of our apathy.
If every time I wrote about my Israeli Palestinian friends and the Jewish Arab experiences- I could substitute these words with ‘whites’ and ‘blacks.’ Maybe this would bring the issue home more clearly?
Am I a kumbaya type person? No, hell no. Am I a bleeding heart? Nope.
What am I then?
I am a pragmatist.
I am a realist.
If what you are doing isn’t working, that means you are suppose to do something else instead.
I am an innovator.
I do not do things the way the rest of you do them and I never will.
This is why I get results that other people do not get.
I am divergent.
I develop in different directions.
I interpret all matters differently.
I use unfamiliar premises as bases for inference.
I avoid common limiting assumptions in making deductions.
Does this mean I am a better human? No.
Does this mean I am smarter? No.
I am just a person, an everyday human being.
I am a Jew.
I am just confronting that tiny inner racist and holding it accountable.
I cannot make any of you do this.
I can only hold myself to my own standard of care.