The conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people is a problem of crisis proportions for humanity. It represents no less a crisis for the Jewish people that Israel was created to shelter. Indeed, in this current era of power and self-determination for Jews in Israel, we face risks to our peoplehood that far exceed the physical perils brought by millennia of persecution.
The stormy controversy over the Israel-Palestine question today -- a controversy
that is splitting the Jewish community here in the United States as well as Israeli
society -- stands as evidence of this risk. The history of conflict and
bloodshed between the State of Israel,
its Arab neighbors, and the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine is the unavoidable and predictable
result of the colonialist nature of the Zionist enterprise. What is uncanny and
tragic is that in the current discourse, the roles of the combatants are turned
upside down: The Jews are portrayed as the victims, and the Palestinians as the
aggressors. Suicide bombings are horrible and terrorizing. But it is
too easy, too convenient to tar an entire people with this brush, which is
precisely what has happened. Without a doubt, Israelis have suffered greatly over the years as a result of the conflict. But overall, it is the Palestinians who are the chief victims: dispossessed,
powerless, and pained. Israel lives. Palestine is dying.
As Jews we sought political self-determination, and we achieved it. Now we must behave in accordance with principles of justice and in accordance with international law. Political empowerment presents a mighty challenge to values. The Prophets knew this well, continually speaking this truth to the power structures of their day. Jews deserve to live in peace and security. But this must not be achieved through the oppression of another people. To my coreligionists in Israel and America, I say that we will survive as a people only to the extent that we understand how our own suffering makes us part of humankind, and responsible for suffering wherever and whenever it happens. With those who say that Israel must survive, I have no argument -- but I pose the question: What kind of Israel do you want?
Although it is painful and deeply troubling, I see the ferocity
and depth of the current split within the Jewish community as
an opportunity for dialogue. We must encourage this conversation -- we stifle
it at our peril. And we must bring this dialogue to the non-Jewish community.
To our Christian sisters and brothers I say – do not, out of a sense of guilt
for anti-Semitism, give the Jewish people a free pass. Do not confuse
criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and in so doing fail to hold Jews
accountable for our choices and our actions, as members of the human community,
as individuals, and as a nation state -- especially as a nation state.
From The Jewish People, Zionism, and the Question of Justice, by Mark Braverman, Ph.D.