Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Stories from behind the barrier

The infamous Palestinian issue is the first thing that most people associate with Israel. No wonder- The State of Israel was founded thanks to winning the 1948 Arab War. It owes its present territory (including the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza and the Golan Heights) to the Six-Day War with the Arab countries in 1967. Therefore, it’s existence is inseparably linked with the conflict.
As the topic doesn’t disappear of the headlines, Palestinians fall victim to numerous harmful simplifications. On one hand, there is the Israeli press and TV that tends to create this national psychosis of a kind. In the media, most of the Palestinians are presented as bloodthirsty, fanatic terrorists that dream of killing all the Jews in the name of Allah. The rest is described as a uniform mass of poor, uneducated, Muslim goat-owners.
On the other hand, the pro-Palestinian fraction tends to be biased as well. Many Europeans talk a lot about the ‘Free Palestine’ movement, blindly supporting anything related to their beloved ideals of liberty and peace, with no knowledge about the complexity of the conflict. In their eyes, the Palestinians are nothing but helpless victims and refugees, identical in terms of political affiliations, aspirations and desires.
It seems quite a paradox that both of the totally opposite political sides basically do the same thing: use sweeping, populist generalizations and deprive the occupied nation of its dignity.
If you want to step out of this logic, get some in-depth knowledge and become familiar with the authentic, Palestinian perspective - read Raja Shehadeh. This human rights activist, lawyer and writer contradicts all the Arab stereotypes. In his books, he describes the every-day life of a West Banker. All the difficulties and humiliations, travels hampered by the separation barrier and IDF controls, continuous settlements destroying the natural environment, arrogant and inhumane attitude of the ‘almighty’ soldiers, actual threats and frustrations... The list go on and on. The way he talks about it is highly emotional and patriotic but far from hatred. He reminded me of a best-loved grandfather, full of dignity, wisdom and understanding; the kind you just want to sit by and learn from. I truly advice you to do so!
However, if you are the modern, Internet-immersed sort of grandchild, here are the links to impressing Israeli organizations that openly stand for revealing the truth about the Occupied Territories and finding a common ground with the people from the other side of the wall:

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