Israel and Palestine

I’ve lived pretty much all my life with this being a hot button political issue in the US. While I have my own sense of what would be the most pragmatic outcome, I think the idea of a just outcome is simply not possible given the complexity of the situation and the long history of bloodshed.


I can’t help but have sympathies for all the victims of violence over the years. There are a lot of palestinians, a lot of arabs, and a lot of Israelites who have suffered from the violent conflict, generations of them at this point. No one who is a direct proponent or participant of violence deserves to be the victim of violence.

Everyone should have a home where they can feel safe, live their best life, and have some measure of control over their own fate through political representation. What people don’t need is the ability to dominate others and drive them away from where they live their lives. And it is this whole notion of the “other” that is the cancerous root of the whole conflict in many respects.

I have many sympathies with Israel itself. It’s still pretty much the most politically progressive regine in the region. It allows its citizens more freedom and self determination than any other state in the middle east. It is the most western country in the region and thus culturally the closes to my own. I have family that were born there and can claim citizenship. My father, step-mother, and sister are all Jewish.

While I don’t have quite so much in common with Palestinians or Arabs, their pain and suffering is as real as anyone else’s and their right to live in peace is as great as anyone’s. I also feel for them because of the two sides, they are by far in the weaker position and lose pretty much all the conflicts that take place. While Israel has prospered, the lives of those in the occupied territories has stagnated or declined.

Most of all my sympathies lie with those inside and outside the conflict who have struggled to bring about peace and cooperation between the two sides in this conflict.


I’m going to attack ideas rather than people here, but those that hold and champion these ideas are the root of the violence. On the Israeli side are those that have a religious mission to take over more and more territory where Arabs and Palestinians live (or have lived) and furthermore want to clear said people out of those areas. It’s blatant colonialism and ethnic cleansing.

On the other side of things, there are the religious zealots who want to see all the Jews of Israel driven from the middle east. They continue violent opposition despite having a losing hand, which only creates greater suffering for their people. In negotiation they have consistently stuck to unrealistic goals leading to erosion of their possition year after year to the detriment of those they are supposed to represent.

And all around the world, there are opportunists who encourage violence either through rhetoric that builds domestic political support or through contributions of arms and armaments for profit or “charity”. Behind them are the usual bigots who hate from afar either Muslims of Jews or both.

A mixture of both

Finally there are those for whom I both have sympathy and some antipathy. There are those who have been the victim of violence from the other side and who’s hearts were hardened by it to violent opposition. I can fully sympathize with how they feel, but none the less they perpetuate the violence to their own detriment.

Then there are those who, while not advocating violence, do strongly favor one side or the other and advocate this way. While they do have their reasons, this is not a conflict that has been “won” by taking a side. Compromise is the only way the actual conflict ends short of the annihilation of one or both of the combatants, something I don’t see as a real victory or very likely as it would galvanize opposition against the other side.

And even for my own views, which represent a kind of unrealistic hope for resolution such that everyone can gain something after setting aside greed and the will to fight. I can’t condemn anyone else’s view without a fair critique of my own because it’s pretty clear no one has a functional solution. Ultimately, it will be up to the two parties, not outside opinionators, to settle this situation someday.

What would I do?

Were I the king of the world I’d have Israel annex the occupied territories and make full citizens out of all who live there and full property rights over where people live. I’d like to see people replace religious dominance with religious tolerance as a key agenda. I don’t think this kind of solution is especially likely, but it is more pragmatic than many others. it likely offers the best life for those in the occupied territories. The biggest barrier is the desire of Israel to remain a majority Jewish nation, or perhaps even one that specifically serves Jewish interests. Mind you, it is a near monumental barrier, but I think perhaps there are ways to do this through its constitution.

But I’m not the king of the world and never will be. Even as an advocate, something I think can have power, as an outsider there is little influence I can wield. And while America is no doubt very influential, Israel is sufficiently independent that no amount of financial pressure is going to truly sway their domestic policy. We could hurt them, but we can’t control them. Ultimately I would advocate for a more neutral position for the US both in Israel and in the region at large. It’s best they make these decisions without the rest of us playing tug of war.


One Response to “Israel and Palestine

  • James Thomas
    3 years ago

    A thoughtful and reasonable essay on the subject Sig. Thanks for sharing.