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Response: Humanizing The Palestine-Israel Conflict

Response to Humanizing the Palestine-Israel Conflict article

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

Though I deeply admire individuals such as Alice Rothchild, a member of a Jewish American health-care organization active in Palestine, many of the other individuals who commented in the article on humanizing the Palestine-Israeli conflict have a misguided understanding of the tensions. There are many reasons for the conflict, the chief of which is Zionism whose leadership, long before the Holocaust and the creation of Israel, desired to take Palestine with the stated goal of killing them, driving them out or caging them (Jabotinsky).

The United Nations Partition Plan - Resolution 181 was basically a corporate take over - creating a state for the Jews in approximately 55% of Palestine and leaving 45% for the Arabs, many of whom had lived there for hundreds and some for thousands of years. (The Jews of Jesus time spoke Aramaic, similar to modern Arabic.) However, UN Resolution 181 called for freedom of movement for both sides and no unnecessary transfers of populations. If eminent domain was called for, those transferred were to be compensated. However, in 1948 after Zionists blew up the King David Hotel and the British assigned to assist in the execution of the plan, widespread massacres began of Palestinian villages with subsequent involvement of Arab nations. Shortly after Israel declared itself a state, the Absentee Property Laws were passed where all Arabs were declared "absent" and their property, land and bank accounts transferred to Israel, thereby making the Palestinians destitute. The Zionists drove out 80% of the population, and took over 78% of the territory to create the state of Israel. Many of the Palestinians were forced into refugee camps where they suffered extreme heat and cold with only a UN provided tent for shelter; ten years later the UN built homes in the camps where they have no legal rights except the right to return. Others settled in what remains of Palestine

Following the 6 Day War in 1967 involving Jordon and Egypt, Israel illegally grabbed what remained of Palestine as war booty. By the 1970s, under the guidance of Ariel Sharon, Israel began to build Jewish-only roads within the Occupied Territory, followed by military outposts and Jewish-only settlements. Today, 3.2 million Palestinians live on barely 8% of their original land. Israel controls their water resources and rations it to the point where most Palestinians suffer dehydration as well as live in near-starvation conditions. Israel routinely destroys their farmlands, bulldozes their homes, destroys water and sewer infrastructure and have created 750 checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall with military towers for easier access to firing on the population.

Today Palestine is an open air prison, a concentration camp ruled over by a USA funded 36 billion dollar military, which drops bombs on apartment buildings and fires sniper attacks into population centers including grammar schools. Thirty children were brutally murdered by Israeli forces during the two weeks leading up to the American elections. Palestinians have sticks, stones and homemade devises with which to resist.


Humanizing the Palestine-Israeli conflict needed, says physician
Democrat Staff Writer
Friday, December 17, 2004
Foster's Online

PORTSMOUTH - While pro-Palestinian Jews may be in the minority in the Seacoast, their desire to find a peaceful settlement to the Middle East crisis in not.

During a visit to Portsmouth, Alice Rothchild, a member of a Jewish American health-care organization active in the Middle East, discussed the stark reality both here and abroad.

Rothchild is a Jewish doctor who traveled to Israel and Palestine with the Jewish American Medical Project (JAMP) in January. Her visit to Portsmouth was sponsored by Seacoast Peace Response,

Rothchild explained JAMP is an organization that aims to use its status as a Jewish-American health-care organization to broaden the discourse and level of tolerance within the U.S., by humanizing the victims on both sides of the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

"If we are looking for a more peaceful world this is a festering wound that needs to be resolved," said Rothchild, speaking of the Israel occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

According to Rothchild, the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis with suicide bombers and gorilla warfare because the 750 checkpoints that surround their homes prevent them from obtaining even the most basic health care in the hospitals located in Israeli territory.

Women have died giving birth while waiting at these checkpoints to cross into Israeli territory to visit a hospital, said Rothchild speaking before a crowd of 25 last week at the at the Unitarian-Universalist Church.

"It is very painful for Jews, who feel like they have been victimized for hundreds and hundreds of years, to realize that they are now the victimizers. That is very difficult and painful," said Rothchild who claims that this topic is so taboo to Jewish Americans that pro-Palestinian speakers are refused when they ask to speak at local temples.

"There will be people who will not want to talk with me after this article," said Linda Vernon, a converted Jew from York, Maine.

"I am deeply concerned about justice for Palestinians. My conclusion would be that more justice for Palestinians would create more safety for Israelis," said Vernon who attends the Dover Temple. "What I find works well for communication with my fellow Jews is by first saying that there should be a safe place in the world for Jews, and there should be a safe place in the world for everyone."

Vernon said the problem with many of her fellow Jews is that they don't look past the information presented by the media.

"I think, first, people need to notice the injustice that is happening. Homes are being bulldozed. Palestinians live with insufficient health care, their economy is crippled because of checkpoints, and they live in rubble," she said.

One way some Jews get involved for the fight for Palestinians, said Vernon, is by secretly supporting a national organization called Tikkun, which means to repair the world.

"You cannot negotiate out of the barrel of a gun," said Rabbi David Mark of the Temple Israel in Portsmouth. "I consider myself a moderate dove. However, we are dealing with a environment where men, women and children are going out to a nightclub on a weekend and getting blown to bits (by Palestinians). This is not right."

While Mark said that he believes it is essential for the Palestinians to have a state of their own, he said that before negotiations can start the Palestinians have got to throw down their arms.

"Here we are in Portsmouth, right across the river you have Kittery, Maine. Suppose you have an enemy regime in Kittery that wanted to overcome Portsmouth. Wouldn't the government in Portsmouth be within their rights to protect their citizens," asked Mark. "Israel didn't want to do this, they wanted to negotiate. The Israelis have got to stop them on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip or they will have to stop them in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv."

Mark said that he doesn't think all Palestinians are to blame for the conflict, however, he said that it is often the policy of terrorists to hide within a crowd.

Two organizations that Mark supports which help the peace process are Friends Forever Inc. and Seeds of Peace summer camp in Otisfield, Maine.

"There are two local organizations that are doing good work. Both of these organizations will take young people, Jews and Palestinians out of Israel, and have them live together for a few weeks and have them live together and get to know one another as friends and not adversaries so they can get past the stereotypes," said Mark.

Hans Heilbronner, a retired professor of history from the University of New Hampshire, believes the need for Middle East oil and a 1,000-year-old hatred of Jews is the reason the conflict is still raging strong.

"I think it is absolutely essential that Palestinians achieve a state of their own and that Israel leaves the Gaza Strip, and appropriate territorial adjustments be made in the West Bank," he said. "I think the possibility for some resolution is certainly better with the death of (Yasser) Arafat but I have no illusions. One of the problems I think that has prevented a resolution is the fact that, with the exception of the U.S., the world has been unduly critical of Israel."

Heilbronner said that temple discussions are held frequently on the subject, but the only ones who will be able to make a difference are those in power.

Many American Jews are concerned about the conflict because they are fearful for the safety of Israel, said Heilbronner a member of Temple Israel in Portsmouth.

"It is true that many of the American-Jewish organizations have pushed for the Israelis to make compromise, for the sake of Israel," he said. "Even if they don't have any love for the terrorists, it is not good for Israel to be ruling over Arabs."

"I make contributions to a group in Israel called the New Israel Fund," said Allen Linden, of the organization that is trying to create a working relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.

Linden said he believes abuses have been made on both sides, however, Palestine's unwillingness to recognize the right of Israel to exist prevents the conflict from ending.

"Until there is some kind of Palestinian leadership that can control the extremists, and admit the right of Israel to exist it is a tough situation," he said.

Describing himself as moderately pro-Palestinian, Linden said there are a wide range of feelings in his congregation. He added, however, that pro-Palestinians are in the minority in Portsmouth.

© 2004 Geo. J. Foster Company

(Note article is reproduced here as original could not be found.)


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