A few weeks ago, an insightful column in The Eagle finally answered the one question that countless political theorists and activists have been asking for decades: how to solve the unrest in the Middle East.
And wouldn’t you know, after a three-month backpacking trip through Israel, Palestine and Jordan, the author had finally came to the conclusion that “faulty education” is in fact the reason why an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains elusive.
Yes, never mind the expanding settlements, the occupation, the illegal appropriation of Palestinian land and the human rights abuses conducted by the Israeli military. Apparently, those issues don’t really matter compare to “faulty education.”
While columnist Andy Wallin should be commended for trying to challenge his assumption by backpacking throughout West Bank, Israel and Jordan (a luxury, of course, that Palestinians living under occupation cannot afford), it seems that he missed a few sights. While Wallin claims that “it seemed like Israel did not exist” when he was in West Bank and Jordan, Israeli authorities had been quite literally building on top of ruined Palestinian villages from 1948. The former village of Deir Yassin, the site of the infamous massacre conducted by Irgun, now hosts the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center.
The northern villages of Biram and Iqirt, now host a number of Jewish neighborhoods, while their original Palestinian inhabitants, despite having Israeli citizenship, are still denied the right to return to their land. In West Bank, the settlers of Hebron had brazenly painted the slogan “Gas the Arabs” on Palestinian properties, while the army did absolutely nothing about this.
Regarding the Israeli civil society, the author also conveniently ignores the overtly racist discourse employed by Israeli politicians. Shimon Gapso, the mayor of Upper Nazareth openly proclaimed his intention to keep his city “Jewish,” and, as long as he is mayor, not a single mosque will be built within the city. Miri Regev, along with other members of the Likud party, had been leading rallies against the so-called “infiltrators,” i.e, African refugees, in Israel.
The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not a conflict of equal sides. It is the conflict between an oppressor and the oppressed, a conflict where one side fields F-16s and nuclear weapons while still claiming to be “threatened” by a gang of rock-throwing kids and poorly-armed, ill-trained militias.
“If you will it, it is no dream,” Theodor Herzl once said. Sadly, it appears that the Israeli authorities have been unwilling to find a lasting and fair solution to the conflict. Blaming the cause of the conflict solely on Palestinians is counter-productive, to say the least. Unless the State of Israel acknowledges Palestinians’ basic humanity, the historic reality of ethnic cleansing and other grievances, a solution is unlikely to come in the near future.
Hank Pin is a senior in the School of International Service.