Opinion: A parallel situation

By GAIL PAGE

Published: 08-19-2023 6:00 AM

Gail Page lives in Concord.

There is a daily death toll reported in the war on Ukraine by Russia. We also learn from the media what buildings and infrastructure have been destroyed and in which Ukrainian cities. People on the street relate the horror of their lives and mourn their dead family members and neighbors and the destruction of their normal existence.

I try to imagine what it would be like if my country was being bombed and invaded; if my city became filled with armed and violent soldiers, bent on terrorizing me into submission, frightening me into leaving my home and country. But for me, it really is beyond imagining. I’m paralyzed at the thought.

The media bring the situation in Ukraine to our attention. Citizens of this world should be aware and look for a way to end the horror. And yet, an absolute parallel situation goes on, year after year, decade after decade. Too many of us are not paying attention or find it justifiable that one people’s homes and buildings, their infrastructure, their very lives are targeted with missiles and soldiers armed with military rifles by a bullying society and government hugely more powerful than their victims.

Of course, I’m writing about the Muslim and Christian people of Palestine, the subjects of ethnic cleansing by the state of Israel and its zealous invaders of Palestinian land. The parallels are unmistakable if one is open to seeing them. Russia wants Ukraine; Israel wants Palestine. Russia is enormously armed with the latest weaponry; Israel is enormously armed with the latest weaponry. Russia destroys Ukrainian homes and infrastructure; Israel destroys Palestinian homes and infrastructure.

The news coverage is vastly different, leaving the public distressed for the Ukrainian war victims and misinformed or uninformed about Palestine. Where the parallels stop is the difference in the ability of Ukrainians and Palestinians to defend themselves and protect their territory. The parallel stops also in America’s financial and armament support for the victim Ukraine on the one hand, and its blind support for the aggressor, Israel, on the other. Israelis destroy Palestinians’ homes, schools, olive groves, water sources, sheep, and farms daily.

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One might argue, as many do, that historical persecution of Jews and discrimination in modern society entitles them to do whatever it takes to secure their safety in the land they are claiming as their own “Jewish state.” The obvious problem with this idea is that safety and security for one has been at the cost of safety and security for the other.

The world has to step up and stop the displacement of the Palestinian population from their land where they have centuries of history and roots as deep as the oldest olive trees. The argument over who got there first is a hopeless one.

If one takes the Old Testament writings as history, Abraham, father of Judaism, is described as traveling with his tribe from what is now Iraq to the Egypt-owned land of Canaan and settled there for a while, but not continually. (“Whose Land? Whose Promise?” Gary M. Burge) They were immigrants, not indigenous. (Genesis 11: 31)

When they arrived, the land was not empty; it was peopled by numerous other named groups. (Genesis 15:18-21) Perhaps these were the indigenous ones. In any case, descendants of Abraham did not stay put. Jews and Judaism spread worldwide just as Christians and Christianity did, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not.

And, after Islam was born in the 600s, it too has spread from Arabia to wherever its believers chose to live and, important to note, has also been subject to murderous pogroms such as during the Crusades between the years of 1096 and 1291. (history.com) Now we are integrated throughout the world and in the best of times, benefit from each other’s traditions, skills, and cuisines.

What about that Biblical text about a promise by God to the Jews that Israel would belong to them forever. Modern justifiers of Israeli brutality toward the Palestinians lean on this claim. I’ve heard in the documentary “Of Land and Bread” so-called “settlers” argue this with Palestinians: “God gave it to us!’ What is conveniently forgotten or unmentioned are the texts in their Biblical source laying conditions on that promise, i. e. to obey God’s laws and to practice justice and fairness with their neighbors.” (“Chosen?” Walter Brueggemann).

Time and again the history of those ancient Jews includes the loss of their “promised land” resulting from their failure to follow those commands.

The Jewish State that has been established in Palestine is intended to represent a safe haven to a people who have seen much discrimination and genocide, but both the Russian and Israeli land seizures in the interests of security are incompatible with such a goal.

The violence that exists in Palestine/Israel now can be laid at the feet of the people who, in seeking safety, have butted up against a people who intend to remain where they have been for centuries and will defend their right to do so. The Palestinians do not tolerate their dehumanization, total disregard for their right to equal treatment, targeted assassinations, imprisonment without charge or trial, and assaults on their safety.

Under these conditions, the state of Israel and its supporters have created the absolute opposite of a safe sanctuary. It should be obvious that unless Israelies decides to share the land and “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with [their] God” (Micah 6:8) they will never know safety in that land.

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