Monday, May 15, 2006

Parallel Reality

Today is Nakba Day for the Palestinians in Israel. Some Palestinians use the day by moderately trying to remind Israelis that their villages were destroyed and many people displaced in 1948. Others are militant, and in their celebrations, they clearly express hope that Israel will be destroyed and that the Israelis will be replaced by Palestinians.

Last week, on Israeli Independence Day (called "Land Day" by Palestinans), Arutz Sheva - IsraelNationalNews reported that: "The Land Day march in Lod featured Hamas flags and fiery speeches calling for the destruction of the Jewish state." In response, there was a request that their Nakba Day march, scheduled for today, be prohibited. (I will add any further news of this when I see it.)

In contrast is the "Nakba 60" project, reported in Ha'aretz as "a coalition of five Jewish and Palestinian organizations established a year and half ago." This group was holding a peacful demonstration and giving out brochures to remind people of Palestinian villages once on the site of selected Jerusalem neighborhoods. ("Activists bring Jerusalem's Arab history to life for Nakba Day," Neta Alexander, Haaretz Correspondent)

I am completely unable to figure out where I think justice lies. I have enormous sympathy for the Israeli view that the Palestinians are not loyal citizens. Indisputably, the residents of the territories voted in Hamas, dedicated to destroying Israel, and many Arab Israelis are very sympathetic to their choice. And Arab Israeli citizens enjoy many privileges and economic benefits (they definitely don't want to go and live in the territories!) But also indisputably, there is discrimination that makes me, as an American, uncomfortable.

Indisputably, in the territories, the residents are now suffering a terrible lack of food, medical supplies, fuel, electricity, and basic services because their democratically elected government refuses to recognize Israel or its right to exist. They don't want to take the consequences of their democratic decision. But there must be a way to prevent the extremes of suffering of people who are in some sense caught in the crossfire.

There's always more. The decision yesterday that Arab Israelis' spouses from the territories may not receive permission to live in Israel is one of the hard choices that the Israeli high court has had to make. I talked to Liza about this a little, and she pointed out that other countries generally make decisions about which spouses of citizens should be granted resident privileges, while this ruling allows a generalized denial without a procedure. The court points out that Israel is at war and is being asked to admit individuals from an enemy state. I have a lot of sympathy for that.

Ha'aretz condemns the court decision for the same reason: "There is no country in the Western world that does not limit immigration and set priorities in accordance with its needs at a given time. Immigration laws make it difficult for foreign partners of citizens to receive citizenship, and they combat fictitious marriages. But not one single Western country discriminates against some of its citizens by passing laws that apply only to them, and that impose limits only on their choice of a partner with whom they can live in their homeland." (from "Supreme disgrace," editorial May 15, 2006)

Still, the world seems to pick on Israel. When the UN and Amnesty International condemn them though, one wonders why they pick on a small decision by Israel and say nothing about more dramatic human rights violations elsewhere. They see the deprived refugees and ignore that the money that was donated to help them all went into the pockets of the Palestinian Authority. Liza says in this context: Mrs. Arafat now lives on Avenue Foch!

1 comment:

Robert Sims said...

Mae - Your statement "indisputably, the residents of the territories voted in Hamas, dedicated to destroying Israel...." hides the fact that the majority of the Palestinian residents in the territories voted AGAINST Hamas. Hamas won, however, because it fielded one or two candidates in each local election jurisdiciton, while the PA, because of a lack of discipline, fielded many candidates thus dividing the anti-Hamas vote.