I have written two previous commentaries about hypocrisy. Maybe having chastised myself for hypocrisy, I am more aware of it. Or, maybe I now suffer from a bit of smug complacency. In any event, I caught myself doing it again.
Here is my recent episode: I read recent articles about the Israeli/Palestinian problem. Now, since I am neither Muslim nor Jew, I don’t really have a dog in this fight (or perhaps a sacred cow in this herd), but the charitable part of me inclines me to the Palestinian side.
The arguments are concise and cogent: through no fault of their own, these people are in settlement camps and inhospitable circumstances. They are restricted to small zones of The Promised Land, while Israeli Jews inhabit land that was previously possessed by the people in the camps or by their immediately preceding generation. They now see land they had formerly owned being occupied by others, part of the land taken by international fiat (1948 establishment of a Jewish homeland) or by conquest. (The 6 day war where Israel conquered West bank and Gaza land.)
I found myself agreeing with those American commentators who perceive the Israeli Jews as being an occupying force. I don’t share their zeal, however. I am aware of several facts that have somehow been lost in the current debate:
1. When Palestine was under British control, 1923, it included the land east of the Jordan River. That land became known as Jordan, what is now an Arab state.
2. The Peel Commission in 1937 advised a partition, a division of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. It was the Arabs that rejected it, demanding all the land for Arabs and none for the Jews.
3. In 1948, the creation of Israel caused resettlement of Jews from Jordan and surrounding land. They also lost their property, but were integrated into the new Israel. When Arabs resettled out of the new Israel, they were not permitted to integrate into the neighboring Arab countries. Israel did not create the resettlement camps in West bank and Gaza; Jordan and Egypt, respectively, did that. In fact, Yasir Arafat, founder of the PLO, carried out his first terrorist act, not against Israel, but against Jordan.
4. Israel acquired these two parcels of land as a result of conquest in a war that was begun by the surrounding Arab countries. Were it not for the 6 day war, Egypt and Jordan would still be accountable for this failure to permit integration. Their decision to keep these people destitute was deliberate and calculated. As long as Palestinian Arabs remained visible, the Arabs could manipulate world opinion. If Israel were to give freedom to these areas, nothing would change.
5. Arafat walked out of the Camp David peace accords when a Palestinian state was proposed.
Okay, so I know all that. Where is the hypocrisy? It is simply this: if an American owns property in the USA and condemns Israel for controlling land that is theirs by virtue of legal fiat or conquest, that American is a hypocrite.
Virtually all of the USA was previously occupied by Native Americans. No Indian treaty has been made by the US government since 1871, but it should be clear that all treaties made before that were coercive and that the ‘Indians’ had no choice.
Strangely enough, there are many tribes that have legal existence, but are not ‘recognized’ by the federal government. To me, that means the fed has allowed someone else to own their land without any formal compensation. As for the Native Americans currently on reservations in the USA, please tell me the difference between them and the Palestinians of Gaza? Tell me the difference between the current US government and the government of Israel.
Let me make a modest proposal: I love to poke fun at Massachusetts because of their liberalism and their tendency to lend their passion to any downtrodden people. And make no mistake: the Palestinians are downtrodden.
Before the coming of the Europeans, this area was occupied by the Massachusett tribe. They had their own language, governance, and economy. Members of this tribe exist today. I encourage the citizens of Massachusetts to take the lead on this. Those would publically condemn Israel as an occupier should themselves sign over the titles to their homes to the nearest member of the Massachusett tribe.
Further, as there have been calls for the United Nations to adjudicate the Israeli/Palestinian question, I encourage the critics of Israel to funnel their outrage into adding the plight of the Native American to the docket of the United Nations, right behind the Palestinians.
I will keep my property and hope that the United Nations, using the Middle East as precedent, doesn’t come into the USA and make us give back our land. After all, our ancestors immigrated here to get away from negative situations in Europe. Whoops! So did the ancestors of the modern Israeli Jews.