As I struggle with making sense of and writing about the divided loyalties (some of which remain strong today) in my region during the American Civil War, in the present day world I am trying to make sense of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
My friends on Facebook are divided -- some pro-Israel, some pro-Palestinian, and the majority, if they have an opinion, keeping it to themselves.
I have no answers, only questions. I begin by reading about the founding of the state of Israel HERE and I am at once reminded of the shameful history of the Trail of Tears -- in my own American backyard. The white settlers, feeling threatened by the Native Americans (whose land holdings had continued to shrink due to various 'treaties',) decided that for the safety of the white settlers, the Native Americans had to go. To Oklahoma. Not quite a genocide --that had happened earlier, over and over again as the New World attracted more and more eager settlers, looking for riches or fleeing oppression.
The similarities to the Zionist Movement seem to me to be strong. I've heard people say that there are no Palestinans -- that there never was a Palestinian state. True enough, there was never an independent Palestine -- the area was a part of the Ottoman Empire until WWI and then it came under British rule, during which time, it was determined to establish a Jewish homeland.
But there were people living there all this while, Jews, Muslims, and Christians. How can you say there were no Palestinians?
Others say the Arab Palestinians left voluntarily or they sold their land. Some historians beg to differ. Read HERE for an account of the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 from the Arab point of view. Imagine being afraid to stay in your home, on the land your family had held for generations. Imagine being expelled at gunpoint. Like the Cherokees.
Please don't accuse me of anti-Semitism. Many Jews, Israelis, and even some Holocaust survivors deplore what's going on in Israel today, as illegal settlements usurp more and more of the bit of land supposedly allotted to the Palestinians. Yes, I'm anti-Zionist. I'm anti any country that declares a state religion and marginalizes non-believers -- an ironic step for Holocaust survivors and their children.
So many countries in the world have sad histories concerning the treatment of the indigenous inhabitants -- the US, most of Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. . . and most look back on it as a shameful period in their history. It's so much easier to regret something in the past -- when all those native populations are comfortably in the minority -- than it is to admit error and set about righting wrongs.
The US has traditionally been a strong friend to Israel -- to the tune of many billions of dollars. According to an article from the Congressional Research Service HERE : "Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in
bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance,
although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional
support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries . . . "
Self interest, of course, is at the heart of this -- politicians receive campaign donations from supporters of Israel -- including those Evangelicals who believe that the survival of Israel is a necessary prelude the The Final Days spoken of in the Bible. And, of course, the oil interests, who want a strong ally in the region.
The West has been meddling in the Middle East for centuries -- beginning with the Crusades and long before the establishment of Israel. Small wonder so many Arabs have become radicalized. Instead of mouthing inanities like "They hate us because they hate freedom," perhaps it would be a good idea to read a little history -- as told by both sides.
There are no easy answers. As one of my characters in the work in progress says of the Union/Confederate division, "Hit likely goes back as far as Cain and Abel."
A knotty conundrum indeed.