If we deny the racist aspects of this dilemma, we ignore a deep rooted problem which will need to be resolved to create a long- term solution to the dispute.
Specifically, I will place part of this problem firmly at the feet of Israel, based on the historical tragedy which resulted in the creation of the state of Israel:
Israel was created in response to the collective guilt of the European / Colonial powers over the (almost successful) attempt by the Nazis to exterminate the Jewish people, and the unwillingness of the European/Christian powers to do much, if anything, to help the Jews in German held territories and the refugees therefrom.
For Jews who fled to the fledgling state of Israel, there was the hope, that -- at last -- there would be a place where being Jewish would not be held against you. The fact that this was also the land that The Bible describes as promised to their ancestors by god provided a certain amount of historical and religious protection over the displacement of people who had 'only' lived on that land for a few centuries.
Needless to say, the Palestinian people in the area were not too pleased at the idea of sharing 'their' land with people whose ancestors had fled it some number of centuries ago. Offers of compensation for the, uhm, 'inconvenience' were, for the most part rebuffed. In any case, most Palestinians placed the blame firmly on the Israeli people for their hardship. The PLO constitution had, for generations, denied the right of the state of Israel to exist. Many hard-liners within the PLO still believe that the PLO should never have conceded the right of the Israelis to exist in return for the hope of peace. Similarly, many hard-line Israelis decry the recognition of of the existence of a Palestinian government in the hops of establishing a peace.
In any case, powerful and popular elements on both sides place the blame for their troubles on an entire race within the region, and elements on both sides still deny the right of the other people to nation status within the region. When looked at in this context, I believe it's clear that to deny the importance of racism in this conflict is to deny a basic element of the problem.
Many years ago, I ran across a saying: When the oppressed become the rulers, they will often use the the tactics they learned in their oppression.
When Israel was created, many of the people who populated it were desperate to avoid a repeat of the holocaust. "Never again!" is a rally cry I often hear in connection with Jews and the horror of the Nazi years.
As a result, when the fledgling Israeli state began to run into problems with Palestinian upset at the influx of (to them) foreigners, they seem to have started using some of the tactics which the Nazis used against them. The insidious thing about this is that any Israeli would bristle at the suggestion that they are anything like the Nazis that Israel was created in response to.
Nonetheless: in it's fight for survival, Israel is using what would, in any other context, be called Nazi or Gestapo tactics.
The result is, I think, not what they wanted. The restrictions and punishments mettled out against the Palestinian community in response to the actions of a the more extreme Palestinian radicals have made Palestinians even more desperate to get out from under Israeli rule.
As Palestinians have less and less to lose, the probability of someone becoming a suicide bomber increases.
The Palestinian people have learned the same lesson from the Holocaust years as the Israelis have -- The best response to oppression is not to cower, but rather to protest the oppression. Unfortunately, Israelis have not learned a different lesson from that time -- oppression is not the way to peace.
$Date: 2001/09/09 15:54:36 $
Stephen Samuel (email@example.com) BCGreen.com home page My Home Page