March 30, 2015

In Blog Letters To Finkelstein News

Why I Care About the Israel-Palestine Conflict

I’m no expert. I’m no scholar. I’m not a trained analyst or diplomatic insider. My expertise is in the kitchen, where I spend my work day.  My credentials are in the chicken parm, pancakes and meatloaf we pump out for you everyday. But then again, reading books, UN resolutions and human rights reports doesn’t exactly require any specialized training, does it?

No, we don’t need to be executives at a bank to understand that the financial bailouts haven’t provided any jobs or saved many homes. And I don’t need to be a specialist in international diplomacy to understand that the Oslo-based “peace process” has just been a pretext for illegal territorial expansion.
I can hear the analogy of a man who continues to eat a stolen pizza, while he takes part in negotiations to return it, and immediately understand the significance of settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
More than a decade ago, when all I knew about the topic was that Palestinians were Muslims, I was schooled by a little kid

​who used to run around the neighbourhood.  Thinking I was being real smart, one day I asked why the Palestinians were complaining about Israeli attacks. I figured, if they’re under attack, just fight back. Why are they appealing to the world?
Well, this young man calmly explained, the Palestinians had nothing to fight back with.  They were under military occupation, they had no army, no defenses, they were throwing rocks at tanks. Oh, and he came from a Palestinian Christian family too. Palestinian Christians, such people existed? I was floored.
Military occupation? One side with no army? Rocks versus tanks? No, that can’t be right, I thought. What is a military occupation anyways? Ok, that’s it, I told myself. Don’t pretend to know what’s going on Zak, if you don’t. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant, as long as you acknowledge it.
So, I began looking into the Israel-Palestine conflict. I began asking questions, having discussions and reading books. Partition, colonialism, religious, cultural and national histories.Theories about pro-Israel lobbyists, jihadi death culture and the petrodollar are in no short supply when it comes to this issue. I started formulating my own views as I began to understand the roots, developments and options.
But everyone and their mother has an opinion – and a solution. Let them kill each other, ban religion, mass transfer, more negotiations, or how about we send over a peacemaker like Tony Blair? Right. And of course, there’s my favourite. Praise “the moderates” and condemn “the extremists” on both sides, and move on to something else.
And then came the turning point. I stumbled onto international law and international opinion, and my opinions became irrelevant. You see, the whole world has decided to resolve this problem by applying the law.  That is, a full Israeli withdrawal to its legal borders, establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, and a “just resolution” of the refugee issue.
This international consensus can be seen in the annual vote at the UN General Assembly (“Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”).  Every year, as the entire world reaffirms the two-state solution, the US, Israel and a few pacific islands you’ve never heard of, cast negative votes. Sometimes, Australia and Canada join the rejectionist camp.
For some reason, this voting record doesn’t seem relevant to commentators when it comes to the “cornerstone” of US policy


even though last time I checked, states don’t vote against their own policies in international forums. But more importantly, this reveals a crucial barrier to peace. If the US pulled its support for Israeli rejectionism, how long would the occupation continue?

There are tons of things in this world that need fixing, but not many with defined, concrete solutions.  Job creation is always a high priority for citizens, but what can you do when there is no “political will” for stimulus? Sustainable development is necessary for human survival, but if the rich countries won’t tackle their responsibilities, what can I do?
I have no particular affinity for the “holy land” and I’m not passionate about Jewish cuisine or Arab culture (I don’t care who invented hummus, I just know that I love it). I don’t really care about Palestine or Israel, but I care about people’s suffering, and what I can do about it. And here, the law is clearly defined and supported by all nations. The major obstacle to a resolution will crumble as soon as the US joins the international community on this issue.
And that’s why I care about the Israel-Palestine conflict, because I know it’s a problem that can be solved tomorrow.