Saturday, May 20, 2006

Israel and Palestine - getting both sides of the story.

I have just added Michael Totten's site to my blogroll. Why? because he is one of the rare people to get on the ground and visit the West bank, and the refugee camps and actually talk, discuss the issues with both Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis.

What with the War on Terror, Iran, and of course, Iraq, Islam and it's relationship with The West is, IMHO, the issue of these times. A clash of cultures, if not of civilisation. The Palestinian question is one of the major markers of that clash. We should try to understand the issues.
For many in the West, the confrontation brewing with radical Islam is the third Totalitarian Challenge (after the fascist - German/Japanese/Italian one of WW2 - and the Marxist challenge, or Cold War, that ended roughly 1989). Many of us struggle to get good, real data on this very different world. Totten goes to the source. In this article, he visits the Palestinian West bank city of Ramallah.

"...As long as you aren’t dealing with Hezbollah psychopaths, Semtex-strapped “martyrs,” or Al Qaeda head-choppers, Arabs really are the most pleasant people you can find anywhere. There’s nothing quite like going to a place where you can regularly and reliably pull up a chair (or a space on a carpet) with total strangers and share coffee, tea, cigarettes, and conversation while basking in the glow of instant warm friendship. Arab hospitality alone is reason enough to visit the Middle East instead of Europe on your next holiday..."

and;

"...He asked me what I thought about Israeli-Palestinian politics. I told him I didn’t know anymore, which is true. During the Oslo “peace process” years I was staunchly on the Palestinian side. Every time a suicide bomber blew up himself and others during the intifada, and every time I saw Palestinians cheerleading the gruesome attacks, and every time I saw polls of Palestinians that showed the majority didn’t want a two-state solution but the complete destruction of Israel, I felt my sympathy for the Palestinian cause bleed away. Eventually there wasn’t much left..."

That last piece is as good a sum-up as any I've seen as to the reason most Westerners tend towards supporting Israel rather than the Palestinians. Israel seems willing to make some accomodations, but many in the Arab world simply want Israel annihilated.
I will state quite bluntly that I believe Israel has a Right to Exist, and for her people to be secure and safe within her borders. The methods her adversaries use to advance their cause leaves me cold, and in fact drives my sympathies strongly away from that cause.

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