Al Jazeera Gaza: Your Views

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Kamahl Santamaria - Al Jazeera English

Kamahl Santamaria - Al Jazeera English
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Al Jazeera English presenter Kamahl Santamaria asks you for your views on the situation in Gaza.

Posted by tarek

8th Jan 2009, 13:58   | tags:


I'm sure the diverse populace of the United States would probably prefer that I should not speak for them all, but I am sure that my opinions represent at least a plurality if not a majority.

In the United States, we are not unaware of the violence in Israel and Palestine, in Gaza and the West Bank. What we are is exasperated. Apparent apathy is, in actuality, ambivalence -- we can see both sides and can't choose between them.

Cultural history in the United States is Christian, and nearly every child's upbringing involves the disturbing Old Testament story of Jericho -- how the Hebrews were promised a particular city by their Patron Deity and, under divine orders, marched around it until the walls fell by a divine miracle and ... then the city was Hebrew. The justification for all of this was that Jericho was on land ceded to the Hebrews long before the Hebrews had been taken away into slavery, and when they came back, there were squatters to evict.

I think about this story and I wonder what it would be like to have someone visit me at my house and inform me that five hundred years before I bought my land and moved into my house, his God had given his forefathers the land my house is built on, and if I don't leave he will murder me in order to reclaim what is rightfully his.

The story of Jericho never made sense to me -- especially not the supposed justifications behind it. Along those same lines, the founding of the nation of Israel never made sense to me. The people who say they understand and try to explain it to me -- these people, coincidentally enough, seem to also be completely and honestly in favor of bringing about a literal Armageddon, the Final Battle between Good and Evil on Earth as embraced by Christian Fundamentalists.

It's an understatement to say I feel their logic is -- fundamentally -- flawed. There is no arguing with someone who has abandoned logic in favor of fervor and faith in what they will swear is God's Holy Writ -- even though that writ has undeniably been translated and interpreted by those who could not possibly place themselves outside of the worldly power struggles that would taint the interpretation. There is no arguing. Only screaming. And then, should it escalate, violence.

Israel should possibly never have been founded -- especially in the way it was founded and for the undeniable goals that founding has furthered at the expense of the children on both sides who will never know peace -- but it's time to consider that fact that the people who founded Israel are now outnumbered by their children: those for whom Israel is the only home they've known and who, if there is any justice, should not be guilty of what blood might be on the hands of their mothers and fathers.

It's never as simple as that, though, especially when someone's father has killed someone else's uncle or vice versa and sons and daughters and cousins and nephews and nieces all vow revenge.

We would love there to be a peaceful one-state solution to Israel, where Jews and Arabs and Muslims all have houses on the same residential blocks and shop at the same stores and work for the same companies and send their children to the same schools. Jehovah/God/Allah alone knows what the country would be named, but we'd all be willing to see it formed and thrive. God Willing. A two-state solution would be a distant second best, because one of those two states would get the lion's share of resources and keep the other in a perpetual stranglehold. I think we're all bright enough to see that. A one-sided occupation with periodic shelling of civilians on the other side of the fence which then have to be crushed with overwhelming force -- well, let's call that the worst solution. We all can see that too.

What we're not bright enough to see is a path forward where the murdering ends instantly on both sides -- where the children who've witnessed their siblings or parents killed can live with the perpetual bitterness and crushing tragic loss without feeling the need to spread it around with a big shovel. You want the rest of the world to descend in force and put an end to the rockets and tanks and bombardment and explosions on buses and gunfire into houses? Okay. Let's have another occupying force decend. But how long does the other occupation have to last?

I can answer that one. It lasts maybe ten minutes past the death of the last child who can't forgive the murder of a mother or father, the child who would start it all over again. And that's a very long time.

Israelis and Palestinians have to find their own way -- each and every Israeli and Palestinian, I'm saying -- to console themselves and one another for the killings that have already happened. You work on that and we'll find a way to get the world's police over there to stop the remaining scuffling and kicks under the table.


14th Jan 2009, 02:27

Pardon me for apparently heading off any dialog here. I thought there would have been more discussion....


15th Jan 2009, 13:31

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