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Moral dilemmas that must be faced

The Israel/Palestine debate is not an easy one to delve into, and frankly I’m astonished that anyone can whole-heartedly embrace one side or the other entirely. But if we’re to pick sides, then let’s be clear about a few things. First, let’s acknowledge that the greatest mistakes have been made already. If we’d have been having this debate in 1948, and someone had suggested evicting an entire nation of people in order to establish an entirely new state in their place, we’d have quietly but firmly suggested that they go away.

And yet, in 1948, that is exactly what happened. Backed with US tanks and planes, the newly declared and previously unheard-of State of Israel announced itself as separate and distinct from the lands of Palestine whose borders it resided within. It then proceeded to declare war on Palestine and conquered the land supported with American dollars and British blessings. Even the staunchest supporter of Israel cannot deny its humble beginnings.

‘I’m not going to ask you whether you support Palestine or Israel. Instead I’m going to ask you to make a different choice. Do you want justice or peace? You can’t have both.’

The justification came from Zionist rhetoric: The Jewish people are the largest group in the world without a nation state of their own; Yahweh promised the Holy Land to the Jewish people; the Jewish people have a divine right to the land. And so they took it.

But at least the people who lived there before were taken care of responsibly, right? They weren’t just forced into a tiny corner of their own country by foreign aggressors, walled in and left to starve, right?

Now, Palestine is run by Hamas, a more aggressive, more religious group than the secular Fatah Party. Hamas gained power unexpectedly in 2006 by way of democracy in a fair and free election. Hamas is labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union, and they certainly act like one, employing the use of missiles against any Israeli target they possibly can, and worse, the revolting tactic of suicide murder. So don’t get me wrong, Hamas is the last thing the Palestinian people need. The Fatah party is a respectable part of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, whilst Hamas can never be negotiated with on the grounds of its ‘terrorist’ nature.

However, it seems to have escaped most people’s notice that Hamas has consistently offered a 10 year cease-fire to Israel. Read that again, because it’s important. At any time, Israel needed only acknowledge Hamas’ legitimate authority and accept a truce, and steps towards peace would have been taken. But the Israeli people see Hamas only as barbaric suicide-bombers who cannot be reasoned with. The Jewish people won’t see Israeli deaths go unpunished, after all, “an eye for an eye.” Likewise, every Palestinian death at the hands of Israel is an insult at the hands of foreign invaders, and must be avenged.

So I’m not going to ask you whether you support Palestine or Israel. Instead I’m going to ask you to make a different choice. Do you want justice or peace? You can’t have both.

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3 Comments

  1. Just a clarification on the Fatah party: it is not entirely true that they are “a respectable part of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation” they have corruption on many levels, as does the israeli government.
    I am not making a comment on anything here other than the misrepresentation of Fatah as a respectable or viable option in times which historically push a population further to the right.

    Reply
  2. Hi Peter
    Just wondering – you write about “the revolting tactic of suicide murder”; would you claim there is something particularly awful or immoral about this tactic as compared to, say, wholesale shelling of civilian houses? Of course suicide bombing is revolting in that it is aimed at killing, and, if you’re anti-religious, that it primarily finds its supporters through religious fanaticism. But as a means to militarily combat a military aggressor – is it not just as morally reprehensible as any other murderous tactic? More provocatively perhaps, if Israel is justified in shelling civilian houses, would not Hamas be justified in employing as many suicide bombers as they can recruit?
    Personally I cannot see why not, but I would be very interested to hear your reply if you disagree…

    Reply
  3. I’m surprised that this was printed, considering it has quite a few factual inaccuracies. Historians usually agree that Israel and Palestine declared war on each other, that Israel didn’t kick out all the people previously living there (most chose to become Israeli citizens) and also that thousands of Jews were in Israel legitamately pre-1948.
    Also, considering holocaust memorial day was just a few days ago, it’s kind of sad that you left out the primary justification for providing the Jews with a state – to provide Jews with a safe haven in the world from anti-semitism and to provide homes for all the displaced holocaust survivors. Half the country was/is desert, so plenty of space for immigration, there WERE thousands of jews already living there, so that’s why the British though it would be a good idea to create Israel and Palestine.

    What are your sources?

    Reply

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