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Estere Kajema
Upper Sixth
Hallward's House

We all deserve a little bit of peace, don’t we…?

We all deserve a little bit of peace, don’t we…?

“David Ben-Gurion himself told Nahum Goldman before he died: "I don’t understand your optimism." Ben-Gurion declared. "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We came from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out".

"But how can you sleep with that prospect in mind?" I broke in, "and be Prime Minister of Israel too?" “Who says I sleep?” he answered simply. (The Jewish Paradox by Nahum Goldman, p. 99)".

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict started off in the early 1920’s, even before Israel existed as a country. Jews, living in Yaffo were constantly under Arabic influence, but since the land was inhabited by Palestinians at that time, no one stopped them. The problems began in 1948, when, on the 14th of May, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel as an Independent State. The conflict is bringing a lot of troubles to Israeli society — in terms of economics, morality and politics.

There are many theories why this conflict has been on and off for such a long time. In about 100 years Arabs have lost 46000 soldiers, whilst the Israeli loss is slightly smaller at 9000 soldiers. Some people argue that it is a religious matter, others that it is all about territory. The Arab world tends to believe that, in 1948, Palestinians were obliged by force to leave Israel. In the same year, the United Nations proclaimed, that in order to create a more peaceful situation, Palestine needed to be divided into two states — an Arab and a Jewish state. However, being very proud, Palestine refused this proposal, as they believed that Palestine was a purely Arab state and should never belong to Jews. There is a theory that modern Israel has always been Palestinian land, and the Jewish Kingdom is only one of many periods in ancient Palestine history. On the other hand, Jews solemnly believe that Israel is God’s promised land. They said, we were promised milk and honey, so leave Israel for the Jewish nation. Also, the Holy Mountain, located in Jerusalem, is the most important memorial for Jews all over the world. In other words, according to Jews, the land of Palestine is given to them by God. However, many, both Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers are saying that they have already forgotten what they are fighting for or against.

For hundreds of years, Israel has literally been on fire. Whether it was the Six Days war in 1967, or the Gaza War of 2009, there is no peace and yet the demonstrations demanding peace are happening all the time, and are gathering together about 20,000 people each time — both Jews and Arabs so the situation is not completely hopeless. There are many young girls and boys, who dream about peace, and who write very inspirational and deep music to that effect —

This September 2011, both Palestine and Israel came to the UN with not-so-surprisingly similar demands. At first, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian leader, asked the United Nations to approve the fact that Palestine is an independent country, in other words to ratify Palestinian statehood, agreeing it has a legal right to the land, its own language and army. The vote is happening right now, and if 2/3 of the UN Parliament votes “for”, Palestine will get the status of a “Vatican Option”, which means it will be an independent and universally recognized state, but will not seek a seat in the General Assembly. It is absolutely clear that the USA, UK and Germany will vote “against”, and France might vote “for”, but the probability that Palestine will reach its goals is very small.

At the same time Israel came to the UN. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister argued, that the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in Palestinian denial of Israel as a free, independent, and, most importantly, Jewish State.

It is very hard to judge this conflict, especially for me. As an Orthodox Jew, I will naturally believe in Israeli truth and in the right and might of their argument. Seeing my family members fighting in the Israeli Defence Forces; knowing they are sacrificing their lives for the good of their — of our — motherland is heartbreaking. It is such a difficult conflict to solve, as Jews, we want both Land and Peace, but it appears that it is a choice between one or the other.

The conflict has been running for many years now and in my opinion, Israel is making a massive mistake — it is giving Palestine the hope of an independent state, and there is no way back. Now, Israel must do one of two things — give Palestine territory, or expel them from the Holy Land. Israel is the one that can resolve this. They can decide to help Arab countries continue to build free, democratic states, where citizens will not be inclined towards the war, but keeping the situation unclear and not making their position clear is only confusing Palestinians and bringing more and more conflict.

It is possible for people to solve this problem, if only they wanted to. Nowadays, thousands of Arabs and Jews are working together for the good of both nations, and it is their job to convince both governments that peace is not just needed, but is absolutely crucial. Before this happens, the Middle East will have to continue to live in fear and continue to wait for liberty, freedom and peace. There are still many, many obstacles to overcome.

5 October 2011

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