I recently had an argument on another blog regarding Israeli/Palestinian issues. It wasn't much of an argument, since my opponent was mainly interested in attacking his own strawmen, but afterward I started thinking about how I would see various issues if I were a Palestinian rather than an American. With that in mind, here's how my perceptions would change, all else being equal.
Israel. Like other Palestinians I would definitely regard Israel as the enemy, and I would probably believe that it shouldn't exist, that the region should be ruled by a Palestinian state, and that Jerusalem should be the capital. But I would also recognize that previous generations tried and failed to wipe out Israel at its birth in 1948, when they had a chance to do so. That chance came and passed, and now Israel isn't going anywhere. It's a powerful, successful state in its own right, and it has the backing of the U.S. If it couldn't be destroyed when it was far smaller and weaker, it is highly unlikely that it can be removed now that it has the strongest military in the region, and an arsenal of nuclear weapons. With that in mind I would regard the so-called "right of return" as ludicrous, a fantasy no more likely to be fulfilled than if Germans demanded the right of return to take possession of lost lands in the former East Prussia. I would recognize that any Palestinian claims to lands inside Israel itself were lost forever, or at least until some future date at which a powerful Palestinian state were able to conquer Israel.
The U.S. Because the U.S. is Israel's powerful ally and protector, I would regard it as an enemy. I would see U.S. aid to us as weakness and stupidity, and as an attempt at bribery. But of course I would still welcome it, and would support efforts to use it however it could best help us in achieving our goals.
Terrorism. I would oppose terrorism because I oppose the deliberate targeting of civilians, and because I think it is less effective than other means. Although I would shed no tears for the deaths of enemy civilians. I would recognize that terrorism had gotten us what we now have, an autonomous region on the West Bank, and a religious fanatic terrorist-run enclave in Gaza. But I would not be happy with that level of progress, and I would attribute it more to the foolishness of the West, and the desire of Israel to buy peace, than to any particular achievements of terror.
Resistance. During the times that open resistance was necessary against Israel, I would support a two-pronged strategy, both military and civilian. On the military side, I would work toward building a skilled, loyal force, adept at raids, ambushes, and sabotage. This force would be directed solely against Israeli military & security targets, not against innocent civilians. On the civilian side, I would support mass non-violent resistance, similar to that used by Gandhi against the British, and by Martin Luther King Jr. during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. I would also argue that would we already have a real state, if these two strategies had been followed instead of terrorism.
End Part I.
Coming in Part II: Arab State, Palestinian leadership, the "Peace Process," and more.
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