Waking Up to the Ideology behind Gaza

When I awoke yesterday morning, I tuned in to CNN and then Democracy Now. I was hit with the most prominent contrast of life in a deplorable violent situation in Israel and Gaza. On CNN was the site of rockets being fired and intercepted in an upper middle class neighborhood in Israel. The homes looked much like those in the US, wide paved streets adorned with globe shaped street lights. The homes in the neighborhood were large, single and two-story stucco homes much like those in California, where I live.

The news anchor was discussing the fact that children were being kept indoors and said that the trauma they felt by being kept indoors was severely uncomfortable to them and their parents. Apparently, the parents were going to have to struggle because the children needed to be kept indoors.

Next I watched Democracy Now hosted by Amy Goodman. The images shown there were of the Palestinian children of Gaza and their parents that only wished that they had the safe haven of indoors. Burnt children were being brought into a hospital. Many burnt children were dead. Their parents and relatives were crying and screaming. Later, I saw people being excavated from piles of rubble, in the background were demolished apartments and old buildings that lined and sometimes covered unpaved streets.

This stark contrast kept me glued all day to the events as they unfolded as I prayed for peace for all of the children, that no child may have to face a day living in fear because of adults’ aggression and warlike behavior towards one another. I also hoped that no child would have to live in a bombed-out, destroyed building in what seemed to be an area that was so unequal to its neighbor.

I wondered why no one cared about the disparity and/or saw it as significant to the conflict? So I wanted to have a better understanding for the mentality behind the indifference.

Why would the Israelis not work towards peace and consider a new, more civilized approach towards working with the people of Palestine through improving their situation so that Israel could have a more peaceful existence.

Anyone watching the disparity of their existences could see that conflict could arise from that basis alone, not to mention the assassination of their Commander of the Military Wing, Ahmed Jaabari on November 14, 2012 and that this potentially lead to the rocket fire. This would be equal to the killing of Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak. I understood Hamas somewhat, as they are listed as a terrorist organization but they are also the governing body of the Gaza strip. What was strange is that people involved did not see the government of Gaza on the same level as the government of Israel.

I then read as much as I could, trying to find the basis of the mentality behind the treatment and perceptions about the Palestinians as less than. I finally found, “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs)” an essay written by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923.

He said, “Zionist colonization must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.”

Benzion Netanyahu, the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, was Jabotinsky’s disciple and private secretary. The elder Netanyahu said as recently as 2009 that the Arabs’ existence “is one of perpetual war” and said that Israel should beat back any hint of Palestinian nationalism with the threat of “enormous suffering.”

It is clear that potentially Benjamin may not ask, why is this violence happening for so long when we continue to do what is supposed to be working? Maybe if he did, he felt that it would be impossible to overcome the Palestinian’s anger for having their land taken from them to create Israel, based on what he would have done if he had been in their shoes.

Another interesting quote from Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” is “We all demand that there should be an iron wall. Yet we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about “agreement” which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall, but discussions. Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous. And that is why it is not only a pleasure but a duty to discredit it and to demonstrate that it is both fantastic and dishonest.”

Here Jabotinsky seems to be saying that negotiation and balance in the situation is a dream and a lie; cooperation cannot be achieved, so all that is possible is the “Iron Wall” to protect the Jewish homeland of Israel. Could this all be anchored on their belief of what they would do if they were in the Arab’s place or on some other false belief, perhaps that mutual respect creates vulnerability?

I thought then about a documentary, “Jaffa – The Orange’s Clockwork,” about the Jaffa orange production in Palestine that was started by the Arabs and then cultivated collaboratively by Arabs and Israelis working together.

According to Wikipedia, “Jewish immigrants to Palestine adopted the Jaffa orange variety from Arab farmers. Partnerships in growing and exporting these oranges was an example of Arab-Jewish cooperation despite rising political tensions.

“By 1939, Jewish and Arab orange orchards in Palestine covered 75,000 acres (300 km2), employed over 100,000 workers, and their produce was a primary export. During World War II (1939–1945) citrus-growing declined, but recovered after the war with the vigorous assistance of the British Mandate authorities.”

“Jaffa oranges are harvested in Israel between November and March, with the marketing season beginning in September and extending through until April. More than half the annual crop is exported, and Israel is a main provider of other citrus fruits to the European Union.”

The Jaffa orange groves were a sign of success of cooperation post the writing of the “Iron Wall.”

Currently, more attention is paid towards the failures that include rockets in Israel and destruction of Arab society in Palestine through warlike activities potentially based on the “Iron Wall” thinking and isolation of Israeli society with the premise that the wall will keep them safe and force the Palestinians into submission with the threat of “enormous suffering.”

What if the solution was found in the exact opposite tactic, one of cooperation to produce success for both sides, like that of the Jaffa orange?

According to the Hope Simpson Royal Commission Report of 1930, “The cultivation of the orange, introduced by the Arabs before the commencement of Jewish settlement, has developed to a very great extent in consequence of that settlement. There is no doubt that the pitch of perfection to which the technique of plantation and cultivation of the orange and grape-fruit have been brought in Palestine is due to the scientific methods of the Jewish agriculturist.”

Therefore, maybe after over sixty years of conflict, the government of Israel should consider former President Ronald Reagan’s famous line, “Tear down this wall,” in their mindset. and try a new, more positively based strategy. Then, maybe we will see a better headline like “Jewish Agriculturalist and Arab Products Create Perfection with Orange,” rather than “Children Terrified and Burnt to Death in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

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