Creating a Positive, Permanent Peace in Israel and the Occupied Territories

Netanyahu_2326735bI have respect for people’s beliefs. I don’t diminish or condemn religious beliefs, but rather dogma, and radical, violent scripture and actions. Every one is on a journey for some kind of truth. Most of us want to help others. Most of us also want to help ourselves. The quest for God, religion, oneness, or whatever you would like to call it I believe is really the quest for some kind of unity, equilibrium, equality, and peace. But we can never be at peace, unless we are at peace with ourselves. We can’t love, unless we are at least able to love ourselves. That doesn’t mean we have to love unconditionally or just accept all of our flaws. Self-improvement is incredibly important. If we make critiques as opposed to attacks on beliefs, then harmony will be much easier to achieve.

Searching for something greater than ourselves is well worth doing, but not hard. I believe you don’t need a Bible or someone’s conceptions of good and evil to do so. You just need to seek it out. If human beings all consider each other equal, then two people are twice as great combined. The world as a whole is then also incredibly full of undeniable value. Just a drop of water from a pond can be teeming with biodiversity, and the biodiversity on the planet is almost unimaginable. But it has to be preserved. Right now there are too many people and institutions that just want to destroy for profit or ideological gain.

When I was in my teens, I wondered about the meaning of life. But it is really obvious. There is meaning everywhere if you look for it. The beauty of the smallest things are humbling. There is tremendous beauty in the world, as well as institutions trying to destroy that beauty, but we can fight back. Most of the world is still religious, because many derive comfort from their religion. I would never tell anyone not to believe, but we don’t have to give up our religions necessarily to give up our dogma and prevent religious rulers from ruling us. It can become very easy to sway people with religion. Religions can compel people to do incredible humanitarian work, but there is a war on certain people’s beliefs without a doubt. There is a war on information, and when someone believes their religion is the target of war (whether they are right or not) then their war to fight back becomes “Holy.” There is then a tendency to emphasize the attacks that have been made on our religious group alone and act like the only victim without acknowledging the attacks made by people claiming to be a part of the religious group we personally identify with. There has been a war on almost every religion in different places. There is also a war on secularism, which is just as unfortunate. The bigotry of expecting only one religion or belief system to dominate is not driven by tolerance, but narrow-mindedness.

I think the occupied territories are a good example of this narrow mindset. Netanayhu and other Zionist hawks aren’t exactly fighting a war against Islam or even Palestinians alone. They fight against anyone who disagrees with their occupation, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of them. If the Israeli government’s assault on Palestianians is seen as a fight for Judaism then more people will feel justified joining that fight due to the historical fact that Jews have been persecuted, such as during the Holocaust. But people have died for their beliefs of all kinds. (It is also worth mentioning more Soviets died in WWII than Jewish people. Hitler’s genocide wasn’t just waged against Jews; it was also waged against anyone who opposed his narrow, genocidal dictatorship.) Islamic, Jewish, and Christian people have all been persecuted. And violent extremists claiming to be a part of these religions have used them to destroy each other.

I don’t think it makes much sense to argue about which religious group has suffered more. We are not our ancestors, and we cannot change the past. We can only try to shape our future and our present. To even behave like any one religion is homogeneous or that any religious group is a bloodline is ridiculous. Anyone can join a religion. We are all capable of changing our beliefs overnight and many do, so if someone is persecuted for believing in one religion, but then converts to another, is then any attack on that person a war on their new religion or their old one? Fundamentalists, might argue the attack is still on their old religion, because many of them believe your “true” religion is the religion of your parents. But there is no Jewish, Islamic, or Christian gene. We all bleed red. We are all made up of human DNA.

Mentioning God can be the ultimate tool of control, because anyone can mention God in an attempt to sway followers. Those who want to be “most religious” or most “loyal” to God can be set on a violent path if someone tells them their religion is being attacked. That is what dictators like Netanayhu do. These people are perverting the whole concept of religion and spirituality. Zionists and other religious extremists fight for land, money, and control. It is radical to want a Jewish State, because it is an unapologetic, violent religious state that thrives on the destruction of other people. There are reasons we try to separate Church from State, but the Israeli government ignores these reasons. Some extremists believe they are inseparable.

The Israeli government wants to insist that any attack their government is “anti-semetic” because this narrative attracts support from extremists who are willing to believe it. But it goes without saying that to denounce the Israeli government is not to denounce Jewish people or to deny their right to exist. Most people for a free Palestine just want their right to existence to be equally recognized. This is not a radical or unreasonable thing to ask for. What that looks like is the question, because if Israel is used as a model for the establishment of a universally recognized Palestinian state, then surely Palestine will counter the viciousness of Israel’s military policies by being just as viscious. I believe ISIS or the Islamic State in some ways is a reaction to hawkishness and lack of concern for human life that the Israeli and American governments display on a regular basis. When they disrespect human life, extremism on the “other side” can also begin to disrespect human life. When this is believed to be a war of two religions, then it becomes that. It only takes one person to believe that to make it so because our beliefs reflect our actions.

I don’t believe this violence has anything to do with true religious principles. The occupied territories and Israel may always be considered Holy by some. But that is okay, as long as religion isn’t used as a justification to keep these lands divided. I think it is inherently wrong to call Israel a Jewish State, even though the Israeli and American government call it that, because it gives credence to the idea that they are being true to the principles of their religion when they are not. They are not defending themselves just America wasn’t “defending” itself by going to war with Iraq. I think if anything can be called Holy it is only the the fight for equality and peace. The Israeli government wouldn’t feel justified in taking land away from Palestianians if they did not believe what they are doing is “sanctioned” by God. If we deny them even this conception, then their war will be seen for what it is: an extremination of people for profit.

I think the creation of the state of Israel was never meant to give Jewish refugees a peaceful place to live. That was the supposed justification, but it never did that. It uprooted people to make room for refugees and guaranteed there would be endless war between them and new refugees who were pushed out. Israelis and Palestinians can live together. We don’t need insane borders with militaries terrorizing people. If Netanayhu was put in prison and other hawks were rightly punished for their war crimes, then an element of religious extremism would be removed. Right now there is too much pride behind Israel when there is little to be proud of. Israel prioritizes war technology over most other technologies. The blood of innocent people split on designated Holy land is nothing to be proud of. People feel like they’re fighting for their identity, so of course, there is a war, and people are greedy.

The Israeli government has the money to keep fighting and they recieve over $3 billion in aid from the US. The only way they will stop figthing is if they are convinced it is not worth doing or they are forced to do so. I believe if Israel dissolved its borders, there would likely be far less violence. People would go where they like, and there may be conflicts for a little while, but it would be easier to see that people can live together and peace is possible. The intentional divide is the reason why there is violence. No one can own that land, just as no one can claim ownership of any part of the world. The world, if anything, belongs to nature. We were created. We didn’t ask to be created. We collectively use the land, but we are just renting it so to speak for the span of our lifetimes, so we have to respect it and all forms of life on it if we want future generations to live in peace and equality. If we don’t do that, then what is the point in living at all?

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