Israel Bad at Making Peace.

1 Jun

As a Jewish American I struggle with finding a comfortable position on the conflict that has been ongoing in Israel since it was born in 1948 – The War between Jews and Palestinians. There is some expectation that my heart would side with my Israeli brothers, meaning that in most cases that it is right to protect the Holiest of lands at most any cost. On the other hand the Palestinians have become a refugee nation that is now trapped and surrounded by several states that are containing and oppressing them, most of all Israel. While both sides are certainly culpable, I do believe Israel has the power and the right to be the catalyst for change that could someday bring peace. They are the more responsible party not because they are simply wealthier, but because the Jewish people have lived survived countless oppression. Thus, it hypocritical for the Jewish people to deal with Gaza the way they have done. Furthermore, we are the chosen people, not picked to lead the world directly, but instead to be a light upon the nations and try to set the example – something Israel has lost sight of.

I am not saying Israel has not made the greater effort to help bring peace – they returned settlements, gave up control of much of the Palestinians territories, tried direct peace talks and have even worked well with Fatah (The political party that controls the West Bank). Still with the most recent fiasco with the Palestinians activists on the ships who were trying to bring much needed aid to Gaza – Israel came in with a hammer and not the former route of diplomacy. Instead of trying to enact a restrained quarantine, Israel dropped in a few squads of soldiers, who were then “provoked” to defend themselves, killing nine and injuring numerous foreign nations. This incident is a symptom of the real problem – Israel is trying to isolate and force the Palestinians into an oppressed and obedient group, they wall them in, stop the flow of commerce and food, even raiding villages to kill suspected terrorists. This plan has back fired and alienated Israel from the international community, made the Palestinians hate the Israelis even more and has grown the power of Hamas within both Gaza and the West Bank. If incidents like this keep occurring, it makes me question the degree at which Israel really wants systemic change and how hard they are trying to achieve this goal.

While this situation appears to be a war only about religion and territorial control, Muslims and Jewish fighting for control of the Holy Land, I think there are actually huge underlying economic factors that have caused the conflict to continue and have allowed for the animosity between both sides to be so fierce. First off, Palestinians are restricted not only by Israel’s strict enforcement of the border, but that there is a constant threat of war, so foreign investment in the Palestinians Territories has been very minimal compared to Israel’s FDI of about US$68.06 billion. There is a huge difference between their economies as a whole; the Territories have a GDP of about US$11.95 billion while Israel floats around US$ 200 billion. This is most striking when you realize that Israel has about 7.5 million people versus the Territories that have about 4 million. Israel and the other Arab neighbors have really hindered this people, to the point where their economy has barely grown.  I am certain there is demand for the cheap labor in Palestine and they certainly want access to markets and goods and I am sure each economy could grow if there was more economic cooperation. Beyond that, the surrounding Muslim nations – Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all either pushed out Palestinians communities, because they were a economic burden, then they were forced to move into the Territories. So now the Palestinians state has very few jobs, a weak government, and lots of poverty combined with myriad reason to become an opponent, either physically or vocally of their mistreatment at the hands of the Israelis.

I believe if more economic and social integration was allowed and the Palestinians Territories were allowed to function like a normal sovereign state, peace could be reach by increasing the livelihood of the Palestinians people and theoretically Israel would be much safer. Sadly, by killing five Turkish citizens this past week will hurt Israel’s chance at keeping strong Muslim neighbors to help get to this point. Furthermore, many Arab states like the UAE, Iran and Saudi Arabia have spent billions of dollars updating their militaries as a response to Israel’s hard power because the IDF is one of the top militaries in the world. This new arms race could result in a wide scale war, the United States is still heavily in Iraq and we still militarily back Israel despite Obama’s supposed disdain for their tactics. I am not predicting a war, but with a nuclear Iran and the money from the Gulf States, Israel and the world face a potentially dangerous time they would be helped if real peace and cooperation could be reached. As a Jew in the United States I feel that this Israel is what it is today because our government has funded it and I have not objected to a foreign policy that is based in ideology and a cold war mentality, not on what would best solve global issues.

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