Today on Facebook, Bob Schneider posted a picture of a map of Antarctica, and suggested that this would be an idea place to offer the Palestinians a permanent homeland.
Now in the past, Bob and I have been able to hold civilized conversations, even though we are very different in our political views and in our beliefs about areas of foreign policy. Many times we have been able to disagree with civility. I actually went so far as to consider him a friend. Today, Bob called me a bigot and a “cross-burner,” and banned me from his page. (I suspect that particular name was intended to compare me to the Ku Klux Klan, and I can imagine no greater insult to my person and spirit than that). He also blocked the thread from me so that I cannot quote myself, but here is what I said, in a nutshell:
I told Bob that I thought his observation was unfair. I said that while I understand the point of view of Israelis, that not all Palestinians should be painted with the same brush and called terrorists. I said there are Israelis for peace, and there are Palestinians for peace. I pointed out that there have been Palestinians in the land called Israel for thousands of years, and that they both trace their lineage back to Abraham. I also said that it pained me to think that the Israelis would do to the Palestinians what white settlers did to the Native Americans, taking all the best of the land and leaving the non-arable bits for the survivors.
At no point did I say I was anti-Israeli, because I’m not. I disagree with their government’s policies which treat all Palestinians as terrorists, when in fact the terrorists are not the majority. I also disagree with Palestinian terrorists, as I believe any form of violence against others is wrong. At no point did I say anything remotely implying that I am against Jews or the Israeli people. I am never one to blame an entire people for the actions of a few or the actions of their governments.
I said that the Palestinian farmers had been pushed off their land. Bob said they were pushed nowhere. I was told I did not know my history. The fact is, I know my history quite well, and I know that Israel was created by the British government for the Jewish people, and that the Zionists created a phrase for this based on the work of Scottish clergyman Alexander Keith in 1843, “A Land without a People for a People without a Land” (Muir, 2008). The permanent solution for Israel was solidified in writing with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Please note that I found the following text on a Jewish library archive:
Balfour Declaration (Balfour, 1917).
The British government decided to endorse the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. After discussions within the cabinet and consultations with Jewish leaders, the decision was made public in a letter from British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild. The contents of this letter became known as the Balfour Declaration.
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
Note that Balfour clearly stated the Crown’s position that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”
I also know, and it is clearly mapped throughout the history of modern Israel, that the country has extended its borders far beyond what was originally provided, and are still doing so. This past April, Human Rights Watch provided a picture of what is happening in Israel/Palestine today (Human Rights Watch, 2012):
Human Rights Watch investigated one of the areas affected by both the permit and coordination systems, a group of eight villages with around 30,000 residents known as the Biddu enclave, which the barrier surrounds on three sides. The barrier has cut off Palestinian farmers there from 50 percent of their farmlands and 70 percent of their grazing lands, on which their livelihood depends, according to residents and United Nations reports.
This report goes on to say:
The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the route of the barrier is illegal where it crosses into and encroaches on the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around East Jerusalem. It said the barrier route was not justified by security concerns and contributed to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by impeding Palestinians’ freedom of movement, destroying property, and contributing to unlawful Israeli settlement practices.
Bob, I know my history. And even with this knowledge, I will not say that I am anti-Israeli. The people who have settled there since the early 1900’s have made a life for themselves, and generations of Jewish people have been born there. I would no more move them to some other place than I would see Palestinians moved; they both call this land home. It would be as inhumane to displace generations of Israelis as it has been to displace the Palestinians. This is not bigotry on my part. Saying Palestinians should be relocated to Antarctica is much more a sign of bigotry than I showed in my post today.
My post has been so thoroughly removed from my ability to see it that I cannot prove what I said to anyone. I can only hope that the people who know me trust that I am offering the truth here. I never said anything to imply bigotry against the Israeli people. I pointed out the truth of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian farmland. I stated that it is unfair to paint an entire people with the label of genocide, which is how Bob views the Palestinians. I am aware that Palestinian terrorists exist to eliminate Israel, and I abhor their mission.
I have Palestinian friends, both Muslim and Christian. Most of them have come to the United States to remove themselves from the violence. They want what we all want: to live in peace, to raise our families, to live. If they wanted to stay and be terrorists, they certainly could have done so. One of my dear friends, a Christian Palestinian, told me that in spite of how he was treated growing up in East Jerusalem, he did not hate Israelis as much as he felt sorry that there could be no peace, and that he was labeled as a terrorist when he was only a schoolboy.
I also have Jewish friends, and we’ve never spoken of anything but peace. We try to find the things we agree on rather than the things we don’t. Under our nationalities, our religions, and our politics, we are all people, and we all want to be allowed just to live.
Let me say this again, just so everyone understands: I AM NOT A BIGOT. I do not hate anyone, or wish any group of people to be removed from the earth. I believe that the God I worship loves us all, and that He proved it by His ultimate sacrifice. I believe in peace, and I believe that there is no honor in violence of any kind, or in prejudice of any kind.
I forgive Bob, for in his fervor for his people, he is blinded to those who would tell a truth he cannot bear to hear.
Lord Have Mercy †
Balfour, A. (1917). Balfour Declaration.
Human Rights Watch. (2012, April 5). Israel: Palestinians Cut Off From Farmlands. Retrieved from Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/05/israel-palestinians-cut-farmlands
Muir, D. (2008, Spring ). A Land without a People for a People without a Land. Middle East Quarterly, 55-62.