Israel. Palestine. Two words that, whether together or alone, ignite many feelings and spark a heated discussion about the controversial conflict. As a passionate activist for the rights of all living things, I made it a point to be informed about world events, ranging from the Mozambique garbage collapse that occurred a few weeks ago to Trudeau’s push for a pipeline in spite of his environmental promises.
I grew up in Montreal and was raised in an Israeli-Peruvian household where food, history, and conflicts were common topics discussed at the dinner table. Needless to say, this conflict hits close to home. The Jewish people have been persecuted people for our entire history. After World War II, we were kicked out of almost every place, but with the establishment of Israel, we finally had a home, something all groups of people rightfully deserve. The creation of a Jewish State in the Middle East was not easy and continues to be challenging.
There are many reasons for this. Different groups believe a variety of notions. Israel is actually Palestinian land that was stolen, or that Jews bought the land from local farmers, that the name Palestine was given to it not by the people but by a previous ruling empire, or that Israel has been the promised land for the Jewish nation since they received the Torah. However, the issue is much more complex than that. Within the basic idea of whose land it really belongs to, there is the idea of a “Two-State Solution,” which has been just as discussed as who the territory rightfully belongs to.
Many state that there will never be peace in the Middle East. This is, unfortunately, our sad reality. But, there was hope. We were close to achieving peace until fifth Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot during a rally about the signing of the Oslo Accords. Since then, there have been countless wars and many deaths.
The evident divide between Israelis and Palestinians extends to the rest of the world. This is caused by our own personal views, which are shaped by the media, our friends, our families, our surroundings. But how can we let ourselves blindly believe everything we hear? Although I am a proud Israeli and Zionist, there are countless things that Israel and its government have done that I do not agree with. For example, a problem with checkpoints is that they create feelings of humiliation, thus potentially radicalizing people, even though it is a security measure. That being said, there are also many things that I praise Israel for, such as the non-profit humanitarian organization Save a Child’s Heart.
When discussing Israel with family and friends, I’ve heard and read many things like, “Israel is killing innocent Palestinians – Haven’t you seen the photos?” or “Young Israelis are taught to view Palestinians as dangerous terrorists!” or even “All Palestinians are terrorists and cannot be trusted.” But knowing WHO is feeding us information is crucial. This propaganda spewed by different parties leads to inaccuracies, biases based on malinformation and hatred. This began with clever tactics like using words like victims and occupation, leading people to blindly pick a side. And, although human rights violations could be happening, they are indeed happening on both sides. Innocent people are dying on both sides, so how can we truly point fingers?
Many, myself included, believe in a Two-State solution. This is even seen in every-day life in Israel/Palestine. Countless articles and interviews show that there is peace and harmony. Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side, work together. Peace is possible. But this cannot be done with one-sided propaganda. For example, a direct quote taken from the official BDS page: “Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes.” This type of propaganda hurts both sides. Firstly, there are many non Jews living in Israel and have citizenship even though they are not Israeli. Secondly, this information, which is not backed up, is stated as fact, thus depicting Israel as the sole perpetrator of the issue. Lastly, this type of statement makes it seem as though Arab Israelis are not truly immersed and real citizens of Israel, furthering the divide between two people sharing one land. It is also important to note that the use of intersectionality to justify one’s view of the situation may be doing more harm than good. While I do support Palestinians and Palestinian women’s rights, as well as the dire need to end unrest in the Middle East, groups, such as BDS, do not actually promote pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian views alike. Groups as such wrestle with peace and equality but are biased in their way of interconnecting oppressive institutions.
An interesting point said by a friend of mine, with whom I discuss our opposing Middle Eastern political views with is that “it’s also intellectually dishonest to assume the worst intentions from your adversaries and the best intentions from your allies.” In order to move past this and have peace, we must put aside our differences and be able to recognize our achievements and mistakes. Furthermore, we must be mature and intellectual enough to be able to look for the good and bad of each side of the conflict. Opinions formulated by one-sided data does not shine a light on world issues but rather darkens our path to resolutions and peace.