I’m conflicted even writing about this as I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about the issue as some friends like this fellow and I see plenty of blame to go around on both sides.
But I will write something anyway, in order to ask a question that I’m not even sure I’m comfortable asking, due to my own lack of knowledge, and the implications of even asking such a question, but it’s a question that comes to me a lot, and maybe
some of both of my readers can help educate me on it.
I’ll start by stating my general position: I support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, though I do believe there are serious ethical issues in having a state which allows the immigration of all the world’s Jewry while denying the return of individuals who were born in and who owned property in the state’s territory. I think the only solution is a two-state solution, and think this would be possible and peaceful if not for a radical minority on each side. I think Hamas was wrong to launch rockets at Israel, and Israel was wrong to impose a crushing embargo on Gaza. I think Israel is wrong in engaging in the current campaign of full-scale war on Gaza. I think the fact that the US provides a perhaps existential amount of foreign and military aid to Israel makes American criticism of Israeli politics more useful and relevant than does condemnation by Americans of stateless actors over whom the US has no control. If my kid beats up another kid, and I scold him for it, should my kid ask me why I am not scolding the kid down the street who called him names? I can disagree with what he did, and talk to his parents but my condemnation of the other kids is basically irrelevant. So with the “special relationship” comes a special responsibility to advise our friend Israel to act wisely. We are not doing that, and Americans who criticize Israel, the recipient of our aid, are accused of somehow supporting Hamas, which of course is absurd.
So, having said all that by way of introduction: my question here relates to the
treatment of use of the Palestinian people by the Arab world:
Does the Arab/Islamic world do enough to help the Palestinians? I don’t mean help them as “the displaced Palestinian people whose homeland has been stolen by the Zionist occupiers” — I mean help them in non-political humanitarian ways. If I lived with my wife and young children in Gaza right now, all I would want, more than a state, or the right of return, or anything else, would be to get them somewhere safe and to then stay there. Does such a place exist? Could it exist? Yes, some Palestinians leave. But many don’t. Do they stay by choice? Does Egypt offer to take refugees in? Does Jordan? Do other countries? Does the West?
For the Arab world, to support a Palestinian diaspora would be to give up on the dream of a Palestinian state, and for some to give up on the dream of a Palestinian state that pushes Israel into the sea. And I wonder how much this dream is worth to the Arab world. We have all heard stories of beggars in Rio de Janieiro, Cartagena, Cairo, and other third-world cities where disfigured children are used as beggars by parents or bosses, and that sometimes they have been mutilated by their own parents so their twisted limbs will earn them more alms. It seems to me that some in the Arab world use the Palestinians like these children, and that for these, the Palestinians are of most use when they are in refugee camps, in dire poverty, hungry, being bombed, having their children killed. How large a group is this “some”? Is it some, many, or most in terms of Arab/Islamic political and religious leaders?
Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe Arab states do try to take in and integrate Palestinian refugees. (I don’t mean sub-citizen permanent refugee status as in Lebanon.) Maybe they can’t get them out, or the Palestinians don’t want to leave.
My thoughts on this aren’t formed, basically due to a lack of knowledge, but I do think it’s an important question, and one I don’t see asked except by vehemently “pro-Israel, anti-Arab no matter what” voices, so I would appreciate any insights more moderate voices can provide.
Basically, the question I’m asking I guess is: is nationalism trumping humanism, and are the Palestinians paying the price for it? As people, not as a people. As individuals rather than as a tribe or nation.