As a child I was indoctrinated as a Scientologist (which I essentially gave up for Science), and don’t have any traditional religious affiliations to color my view on the world. In particular, I do not have a Christian bias, I do not have a Jewish bias, and do not have a Muslim bias. I have friends in all these groups.
I do have biases though. I admit to, largely due to my father’s influence, having an anarchist and anti-government bias. I think that he arrived at this position as a reaction to having been ejected from his homeland after the Russian and German governments alternately burning, pillaging, and raped their way through Estonia. I do not consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be a religious conflict, but one imposed by decisions that have been made by governments. Governments imposed a social structure on a geography that should never have been there in the first place. The Israeli situation is one that is supported by governments. For example, it seems clear to me that the US government does not want to stop this conflict. If they did, then they could stop arming one side, providing three billion dollars a year of “military aid” to the Israeli government. You cannot give people that many weapons, and expect them to act peacefully. Even calling this “aid” is disgusting to me. This is corporate welfare for US arms dealers, funding them at the expense of the US taxpayer … but that is a different rant.
I have a number of friends from IBM that have migrated to Israel for reasons (presumably religious, but perhaps social) that I don’t think I will ever understand. Now that they are there, I don’t expect any of them to be able to look at the situation objectively. Now that the Israeli government is so thoroughly attacking the Palestinian people, I no longer see baby pictures on their social media feeds, but all the typical propaganda of a country that is attacking another, so desperately attempting to provide themselves with justification of the actions that are being taken by their government. It is painful to see this kind of bias, especially from people that I know to be incredibly intelligent. While I haven’t “unfriended” any of these people, I admit to having systematically unfollowed them on facebook, one after another as they push views that are so one sided they were painful to observe. I found this deliberate unfollowing emotionally painful to do, but less painful than seeing them blindly towing their government’s party line and less painful then observing their refusal to see any of the historical context that generated this situation in the first place.
I don’t know how I would behave if I were living in Israel. How would I behave when the bomb sirens start screaming? How would I behave when I was fearing for the lives of my kids? I don’t know that I would be able to look at things objectively. I’d like to believe that I could, but could I fight the social pressures that support what seems like an irrational worldview from the outside? Perhaps I am deluding myself.
As an outsider, I find it easy to accept the description of the militarized wall around the Palestinian people in Gaza as the boundary of an open air prison. Periodic attack of these people with population pressure and bulldozers, sophisticated bombs, tanks and heavily armed soldiers is not consistent with what can easily be described as self defense.
I think it is counterproductive to label your enemies terrorists. All warfare should be labelled terrorism. What is known as terrorism is a created phenomena, and does not happen without it being a reaction to other events. Hamas may be shooting their homemade rockets into Israel now, but this is an action that is in response to decades of oppression, enforced isolation, and a reaction to have been forced out of their homes and other violence. As an outsider the Israeli government appears to be supporting systematic ethnic cleaning. It is hard to see it any other way.
I’d like to understand the reasons that my now-Israeli friends had for going there in the first place. How does it make any sense to impose even more population pressure on a situation that was already dire? How can you, in the name of a religion, support a such a militaristic government? If you were locked in Gaza with no hope, very little access to food and water and basic requirements for survival, if you had seen your friends pushed out of their homes with bulldozers and armed soldiers time and time again, if you saw your hospitals and universities and your power plants bombed, if you saw your kids with portions brains blown out by the fire of overzealous young soldiers armed to the teeth, how would you respond? Would you try to oppose the incursion? Would you also react with violence?
I think that only Israel can stop this conflict. They are the ones in the position of power with all the options at their disposal. If the Israeli people could be brave enough to put down their arms, to stop accepting military aid, to tear down the wall, stop the embargoes, stop the active propaganda warfare that fuels the conflict, and most importantly, to look objectively at the actions they have made that created this situation, then there could be peace. Reacting with aggressive military force can only make the situation worse.