Whenever I write something about Israel, the Jewish people, and the Mideast situation, I stop, plan, and do some degree of research. I never just write and share my basic fears and feelings. So I thought I would try something new. I’d speak, or write the thoughts that come to my mind, whether they are rational or not, and see where the article ends up. We are all products of our environment and experiences, so as you read this know that this is not a planned or structured piece. This is how I feel, directly and uncensored.
I don’t hate Arabs. If anything I have found it somewhat exciting when I’ve befriended one over the years. I worked with a bunch of Egyptians who were decent, hardworking people. I worked in an office with a beautiful woman who was at least half Saudi. She was classy, intelligent, and sweet. Years ago I bought sandwiches in a Bodega from a Palestinian store owner. The guy was friendly and the sandwiches were great. All was good in the world. But I never spoke about Israel with any of them, and only spoke of religion to the degree in which we needed to show respect for each other’s practices. Honestly, I was afraid to broach any political discussion because in my heart I expected them to have nothing nice to say about Israel, and since I considered that unfair and knew it would at best tarnish how I felt about them, at worst cause a conflict, I kept quiet.
I live in New York. In New York, whether Arab or Jew, you are removed from the real problems. I am just another outspoken Jew who sits comfortable in safety and talks a big game. Granted I know there are some who have served in either the U.S. or Israeli military and have put themselves in real situations, but myself and many others talk about “what needs to be done” and then go home to relative or complete safety.
Is Israel wrong? Is that even possible? Well I’ve heard the arguments and I guess I need to seriously consider it, but as a Jew I almost feel like I am betraying my people. Even so, I’ll try, for the sake of argument to understand the Palestinian’s “plight” and consider Israel’s fault in the conflict. Israel is, by far, the stronger of the parties involved. Israel controls, or as they like to say, occupies the territories, so can it really be fair to call it the victim? All the Palestinians want is to live peacefully without an outside force controlling their lives, right? I want to be fair and try to accept that on some level, but it just doesn’t happen. Do I feel bad when innocent people get killed? Of course I do. But do I believe the Israeli government and its officials or population get any joy in killing an innocent Palestinian? For the most part, I believe the answer is no. There will always be people seeking revenge or caught up in their own personal hatred, but an overwhelming percentage do not see hurting Palestinians as a priority or pleasure.
Do all Palestinians want all Jews dead? Of course I don’t think that. But I do believe perception becomes reality, and that an overwhelming amount of Arab leaders create power from creating a perception that Israel is a war-mongering, bloodthirsty occupier that wants to commit genocide against the Palestinians and possibly all Arabs and Muslims worldwide. The Palestinian population, handcuffed by poverty and lack of options, is powerless to fight the information fed them, and buys into that perception. What that basically means is that they don’t hate me because they want to hate me; they hate me because their leaders give them no choice.
So where does this leave us? Honestly? With a nation, Israel, that has no choice. With the attitude that many in the world have, which is “please be a good Jew and take what we do to you without resistance”, I’m happy Israel is hated by them. In the Arab world it means they’re respected and feared, and unfortunately that is what it takes to be safe.
In some ways the whole thing breaks my heart because it would be great to live in a world with no hate, no hunger, and no violence. But if it has to exist, you always prefer it to happen to someone else. In that sense very few people are like a Gandhi or Mother Teresa. To people like them, hardships to anyone is like hardships to everyone. Most of us, even those of us not gaining pleasure from other’s pain, still take solace in knowing that their pain is what prevents a worse pain and suffering being put on us. And as a Jew, and with our history, can you blame us?