Ugly Heritage

Israeli and Palestinian flags next to each oth...

Israeli and Palestinian flags next to each other, for Wikinews. Created from Wikicommons/Wikipedia flag imags, public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some events, some issues, some conflicts seem to never want to resolve themselves. They stick around long after smart, caring people have worked very hard to send them on their way. They remain despite the fact that often those caring people may have come from opposite sides and have managed to reach out, each to the other, to heal rifts. Such is the case with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.For sixty-four years two groups of people who had every reason to be allies right from the start have been tearing at each other. There is so much to cover on this that I have a hard time deciding what to discuss. I could discuss the wide gulf between the power of each group. Related to that is the equally large gap in the number of casualties, with the Palestinians suffering more than five times the number of fatalities as Israel since 1987. Maybe we could talk about the United States complicity in that unbalance.
What really interests me, though, is how passionate people in the West get over this conflict. There have been many places in the world where the casualties in one month equal the total casualties of over half a century in Israel/Palestine. Why does this conflict matter so much more than others?
The short and easy answer is oil. Israel is our steadiest ally in the region. They provide us easy access to the rest of the region to keep access to that overly precious commodity right where we want it. That explanation, however, misses the points that we have plenty of crude of our own and that we have a strong ally in Saudi Arabia as well. No, I think the answer lies in guilt.
Westerners quite rightly still feel a lot of guilt over the Holocaust. In the age of mass communication that was just starting to grow during that event many people in the developed world had some small connection to it. Today most of us that are adults now knew someone who was an adult when it was happening. Maybe we had a grand parent who was a guard in a camp. Maybe there was a great-aunt who stood silent as the Nazi’s rounded up her neighbors. At the very least everyone is aware that until the Nazi’s threatened everyone else, the entire Western World turned a blind eye as they turned away Jewish immigrants.
I think there is even further guilt over messing up the entire situation to begin with. Britain screwed it up from the beginning, and the U.S. screwed it up later on. We want so desperately to clean our hands of the whole mess. Meanwhile, everyone’s hands, Palestinian, Israeli, and American, get a little bloodier every year.
There is so much ugliness in it. Sixty years of ugliness. Tens of thousands dead needlessly. A terrible heritage. A heritage of hate and fear for the Israeli’s and Palestinians and of shame for Westerners. The children of both people deserve better. They are owed more than rockets from their leaders and platitudes from supporters of one side or the other abroad. Until they get it, we will only be breeding more generations of ugly.


3 thoughts on “Ugly Heritage

  1. Whatever the larger issues, I think it’s about land. As long as people feel their land has been taken away, there will never be peace.


    • That is definitely an important part of the equation yes RJB, but at what point do we say this was several generations ago? Not saying there’s an answer to it, just acknowledging that it is a very difficult question.

  2. Pingback: Twinkies and Circuses « Hand of Ananke

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