Sunday, October 7, 2007

Israel and Palestine

I've noticed something, in reading online forums and in talking to people. Very few issues are as hotly debated as that of Israel and Palestine. Threads on this topic are more vehemently debated than gay marriage. I think this is because in any given group, people tend to be either staunchly conservative, staunchly liberal, or moderate and not particularly opinionated on subjects like homosexuality, feminism, racism etc. But 90% of the people who know more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than the name have an opinion on it, and your normal political alliances don't really apply-- it's not like conservatives are pro-Israel and liberals are pro-Palestine or vice-versa. If it's at all important to them, it's REALLY REALLY so.

Of course, the time to really worry is if they're truly, deeply passionate about it, because then they will be furious if you disagree. I've discovered a system for knowing when not to talk about the conflict:

-If you believe that Palestine is right, or that Palestine might have some decent points of grievance, don't talk to someone who is Jewish, of Jewish ancestry, or has ever expressed any anti-Muslim opinions.

-If you believe that Israel is right, or that Israel might have some decent points, don't talk to anyone who is Muslim, anti-Semitic, or a conspiracy theorist because WHY are 90% the conspiracy theorists anti-semitic too?? Must be because "the Jews control the banks and the media" and all that jazz.

This causes a problem for me, because since I am not part of a major religion and the one I was loosely raised as is secular Protestant, I actually have a much more impartial view than most people I talk to. I think both have grievances, because I believe that the UN had no right to make Israel a country all those years ago and encourage Jews to move there, so the Palestinians have a legitimate complaint, especially since many laws are biased against them. At the same time, that doesn't give them the right to terrorize the Jewish people any more than living there gives the Jews the right to "fight back." The Israelis have a legitimate complaint in that all their neighbors are ready to kill them, they're much more progressive and can better handle the land than most of the Palestinians, and they've been there for so long it's not fair to kick them out.

Besides, everything in the Middle East is tied up with religion. You can't kick anyone out. And they can't live together, clearly. At this point the two groups have pretty much equal claims to the land, whatever they may want to do with it-- and although I know Palestine would enact Sharia law, I still say that it was their land to begin with and they have equal claim to it.

If I were Empress of the World... I'd wall off all the major holy sites. Jerusalem especially. Completely wall it off. Then impose martial UN law over the land, saying it no longer belongs to any nation. Ban Jews or Muslims or anyone who is known to have a strong side in the issue from that military service. Set up a number of gates, all strongly policed, sort of like the Vatican-- make sure that if you want to get in you haven't a single weapon on you and no history of terrorism. Inside the walls, put soldiers everywhere, with non-lethal weapons.

Then, split the rest of the land.

Make sure there is a clear, protected road from whichever country doesn't contain Jerusalem to the city; then force a mass exodus. Tell people which area is which. Allow the governments to (non-lethally) evict their enemies from their land. Make sure the land is divided by population and if you can, make sure they get comparable shares of the most fertile land. Will people be happy? No. Which is why you police the border like crazy and impose a major UN presence in the area for at least two generations.

Of course, this would hardly solve the problem but it would certainly hold of the inevitable. I would also pump aid money into this new Palestine with certain stipulations-- namely, that it has to go towards building schools and educating the populace (or as I would put it, "making sure you are at the same level or higher than your enemies so you can protect yourselves"), that it can't be used to manufacture weapons or it will ALL go away, and that all women must be educated under an improved curriculum until the age of 18, regardless of if they are married before then. Forcing them to educate their women or forfeit large quantities of aid would lead to a generally more educated populace, women marrying later (a man doesn't want a wife who has to go to school every day and can't watch his children), giving birth later, and hopefully getting a bit of empowerment thrown in with it all.

So clearly I can't just be Empress of the World, I also have to be God, because that's pretty much the only way this would happen. My boyfriend's probably right, just pull out of the region in a military sense, give money to the Kurds, and force major civil war that will drastically decrease their numbers.

Bah. Being an optimist is hard in this world.

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