Monday, March 17, 2014

Pursue Peace, Not Divisiveness

They point fingers and spew catchy phrases. They shout louder than their opposition, giving off the false impression that their voice is one of righteousness and hope. They claim that their actions are inspired by their pursuit of peace. But their outright attempt to tarnish the reputation of Israel, and to subtly spread a sense of modern anti-Semitism, isn't what's most frightening.

Rather, the most frightening aspect of Israel Apartheid Week is the fact that those who were previously indifferent toward the conflict often fall prey to false claims, utter distortions of fact, and blatant attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel. They're fed information from a growing number of people who hide behind a facade of peace; people who are indefatigably pursuing the absolute annihilation of the sovereign Jewish state.

I write not from the perspective of someone desperately seeking a scapegoat on which I can place full responsibility for this ever-perplexing conflict, I write from the perspective of someone who firmly supports a viable two-state solution; someone who prioritizes peace over petty blame games. I maintain the belief that the perpetuation of anti-Israel sentiments will not yield a unified effort to reach a two-state solution. I hold that divesting from Israel's economy and academia is not a step toward a resolution; it's a divisive act that does nothing but provoke Israel to alienate itself from Western influences. I feel that Israel Apartheid Week is rooted in the desire for a sole Palestine at the expense of Israel's existence, not merely an independent, self-sufficient state.

I was raised to hold an uncritical love for Israel. I was conditioned to think that She did no wrong. As I've gotten older, though, I've analyzed the conflict on a deeper level, and I have come to find immense value in being critical.

Many undeserving Palestinians are suffering. The situation is, to put it lightly, rather unfortunate. Countless civilians are caught in the middle of a political gridlock that has manifested itself in the form of failed peace talks and petty disputes. While this reality is very painful to grasp, I find it unfair to paint only this side of the conflict, as the malicious anti-Israel protestors often do.

It's unjust to portray the Palestinian people as the oppressed; as the sole sufferers in this circumstance. The militant tendencies of radical Islamic groups, many of which are in either official or indirect control of the Palestinian population, make it very difficult for the Israeli government to simply leave Judea and Samaria be. There are necessary precautions that must be taken by the Israeli military to ensure the unequivocal protection of its people.

Unfortunately, and though it's not the same for every Palestinian, there is a sense of reverence and admiration for terrorists who commit themselves to the eradication of the Jewish population. When dealing with a society that perpetrates such acts, it's unimaginably difficult to feel confident in making certain concessions for peace, especially if those concessions would further endanger the well-being of your population.

I am biased, there is no doubt about that. However, I am sufficiently open minded, to the point that I can see that Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is far from immaculate. Israel is rigid in her policies, and, in my opinion, does not pursue peace as though it's a necessity, which I firmly believe that it is. And the roadblocks, the checkpoints, the intense security measures: it's all inexplicably unfortunate. But it's not characteristic of an apartheid state. This modus operandi of protection is not in place to perpetuate Israel's social dominance over the Palestinian people based solely on their race.These precautions have come as reactions to intifadas, to unprompted wars, and to thousands of terrorist attacks.  This system has been implemented to maintain safety within the land of Israel until Palestinian society is ready, willing, and conclusively able to adopt and uphold peaceful values and ideals.

To conclude, I'd like to note that this conflict is certainly not black and white, and I am not one to claim proficiency in my understanding of the ever-expanding gray area. There are people suffering on both sides, and continuing this blame game does nothing but perpetuate divisiveness. In order to arrive at peace, we must pursue peace. Israel can no longer be regarded as the sole proprietor of blame in this conflict; nor can the Palestinians. It's more complicated than what can be placed on a picket fence. So, to those of you who are reading this, and are relatively impartial when it comes to the conflict, please choose not the path of pettiness and blame-shifting. Please choose the path toward peace, toward a viable, long-term, and satisfactory two-state solution.

A step toward peace is not divesting from Israeli companies. A step toward peace is not claiming that Israel is an apartheid state. A step toward peace is inspiring an atmosphere that rejects violence as a mean of gaining independence. A step toward peace is motivating the indifferent to join a pursuit of peace; not a pursuit of alienation and condemnation.

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