As the situation in the Gaza Strip further deteriorates under the threat of total war, I have deemed worthy a brief overview of the conflict between the states of Palestine and Israel. I thought I would share some relevant details so that, insofar as any person is eager to form an opinion on the subject, he or she will have some sense of the tensions between the camps, the longstanding feud between them, and some of the particulars pertaining to the situation at the Gaza Strip.
First, it is essential to understand that the Jewish State of Israel has long been in the process of expanding its control over the region, claiming territory by displacing Palestinians and demolishing their homes to make way for Jewish Israelis — a process known as the Zionist movement, which has displaced Arabs across the entire region known as the state of “Israel”, as the Jewish State of Israel continues to support and finance the large-scale migration of Jewish persons from abroad.
The same has happened in Gaza, where Israel has furthered its claim over the Strip through further (de facto) occupations within that jurisdiction, threatening to overwhelm the Palestinians and usurp control. It is a very complex issue, one in the making for thousands of years, with this particular conflict specifically stretching well beyond a century; a conflict only exacerbated by the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel by the United States and Great Britain following World War II, of course leveraging the Holocaust for these purposes. Regrettably, this has routinely been the excuse or “justification” for virtually all things related to border disputes and international relations where the Jewish State of Israel is concerned; and it is a state of affairs further exacerbated by the continued alliance between the United States and the Jewish State of Israel.
This contentious land dispute has led to the establishment of strict borders, policing, and militarization in the region, even physical walls to segregate the people and strictly limit their movements within the region. Where Gaza is concerned, there is a strict permitting process in place for entering or departing the Strip; the Jewish State of Israel prohibits Palestinians from entering or leaving the area except in extremely rare cases, which include urgent, life-threatening medical conditions and a very short list of merchants.
The region has been mired in an unending state of war, interrupted only by intermissions, and it will continue in this state until the conflict is settled between the two parties without outside influence or intervention; and when that is finally accomplished, the region will likely remain only in a state of relative stability, to continue to be confronted with conflicts of varying scales, just as happens politically over specific, hotly-contested issues in the United States and the broader Western world. Indeed, to attempt to "solve" the matter is akin to preventing earthquakes along the San Andreas fault. Ultimately, it is imperative that, insofar as they wish to form an opinion on the matter, the people of the world take the time to patiently study the history and the details of the conflict; and, likewise, it is vital that the world’s major powers abstain from intervening, as it is just that which is responsible for the character and the extent of these problems today.
As for the tragic loss of life during the surprise attack on Gaza, no metric could possibly capture the grief, the sorrow from the lives lost and the others forever changed. Any death is simply beyond the reach of any calculation; it is beyond any of the terms and the measures that could possibly be used to approximate the loss. For this reason, it is not just troubling but highly disturbing that some of the Jews — and even American diplomats such as Anthony Blinken — speak about how the surprise attack on Gaza was far, far worse than the attacks on 9/11; so much worse, in fact, that, according to them, “30,000 Americans would have had to die in those attacks to equal the losses in Gaza”. What a simplistic and inhumane way to assess the value of human life: on a per-capita basis, comparing the losses on 9/11 to the entire population of the United States, essentially asserting that the American life on 9/11 was worth a tiny fraction of each life lost in the surprise attack on Gaza. Three thousand people died in the attacks on 9/11. The fact that this is a relatively smaller percentage of the total population of the United States is entirely irrelevant. They are people, not statistics. Plus, if the talking heads weren’t complete mathematic illiterates, and for whatever (purely academic) reason they still wanted to compare the losses, they would do so between the sizes of the territories, or simply, in this case, relative to the size of New York. Either way, a decent human being wouldn’t even think of it in these terms, let alone voice those thoughts.
As for this message, do not confuse it as one explicitly in support of the State of Palestine, but rather one enumerating a set of necessary distinctions to be drawn and appreciated. Consistent with my message below, my knowledge and my experience afford me particular insight into the matter, but I do not and will not claim to know enough to protest in support of any group.
As far as my understanding, based on personal experiences, my studies at the several universities, my time spent with the inhabitants, as well as my academic insight across the region, it seems true that there is much confusion surrounding some of the important nuances around this conflict. There is absolutely no way to adequately represent all of them in the limited confines of the text and time now available, but it is possible to illustrate a few of the basics; insights which are, I confess, limited by my own (fallible) knowledge on the matter.
It is worth noting that there are several ongoing conflicts in the region, ones between persons and cultures, ones between ideologies, ones between jurisdictions and forms of governance, and others between institutions and armies. Put another way, there is the conflict between persons at the individual level, then there is the conflict between institutions over the jurisdictions. Similarly, it is essential to appreciate the totality of the circumstances and the history of the Holy Land. It is important to remember that, from the Biblical perspective, Israel was decreed the land of the Jews, not as a “state” for the Jews.
Another troubling aspect, and a deplorable one at that, is the fact that, through Zionism, the Jewish occupants and settlers are not civilians in the truest sense, but are instead employed in service to the state, serving (whether willingly or unwillingly) to purge or displace the others from lands — and to demolish homes — over which the others (debatably) have a claim; this is especially so where every citizen of that state is expected to serve in its armed forces. It is essential to remember that, in the modern context, we are dealing with a matter of two peoples with claims guaranteed by the same institution which “officially” declared them both, a conflict of jurisdictions which has left the two groups jockeying for position for the better part of the last century. It is worth noting that, in this conflict, the Jewish State of Israel enjoys its status as a uniformed and “legitimate” force respected (and defended) internationally, whereas the resistance is scattered, less organized, and deemed illegitimate by the world’s major players. This benefits the controllers of the status quo, whose actions may then be stylized as “defense” or “peace-keeping” The Jewish State of Israel is thereby party to the group in control of the preferred “peace” and status quo; controllers who, depending on one’s perspective, may or may not be legitimate.
Likewise, it may rightly be stated that the United Kingdom, the colonizer, not only lacked the authority to draw up these jurisdictions, but indeed complicated matters through its conflicting guarantees. Above all, in order to appreciate the conflict within the Jewish State of Israel, one must first understand the distinction between Judaism and Zionism, a distinction clearly drawn by Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss in this video.
Ultimately, most of the talking heads and media outlets are mere hypnotists and distractions; in other words, they are a complete waste of time. Most are neither guided by nor interested in the truth. Instead they are bought and paid for, or compromised in some other way; their judgment is clouded with bias, and in most cases they have never even visited the region. Feel free to view the above diagram to appreciate just what type of effect Zionism has had on the Palestinian people and their lands, people who have been harassed and displaced through the continued onslaught of Zionism — note that this is not to suggest that others necessarily lack a legitimate claim to their respective lands, but that the all-powerful Jewish State of Israel has asserted that its might shall dictate its right. We must also remember that these are not just demographics, but people: individuals and families, whether Israeli or Palestinian.
Ultimately, it is essential that people distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, as it is largely the latter which is of concern in this case; and this is precisely why there are even anti-Zionist Jews joining in the protests against the Jewish State of Israel. Where there are people forming opinions without this crucial understanding, it is a classic case of people, in this instance Westerners, attempting to form opinions with very limited knowledge, on matters they cannot possibly understand; matters that are simply too alien, too distant, and too complex to truly appreciate. It would behoove Americans, and others throughout the world, especially those of the West, to mind their own business, to conduct some research into the matter, to visit the region and to actually spend time with the people, before even beginning to entertain the idea of forming an opinion. Above all, it would behoove the people to first properly appraise the value of life.
In the case of the talking heads, the media outlets, and other social media influencers, they are constantly living in the abstract, under the belief that they must form and express an opinion, and that their opinions are as essential to society as water; or that they must express an opinion to avoid appearing stupid, an opinion in defense of one particular side over the other(s). I have no sympathy for those who scarcely admit that they know too little to form a worthwhile opinion. I have no sympathy for those who refuse to admit their biases, their limitations and their assumptions. I have no sympathy for those motivated primarily by financial or material gain in sharing their every view and opinion. For this reason, I have lost almost all respect for the self-appointed pundits and mainstream outlets politicizing and intellectualizing the deaths, misleading their audiences, framing and obfuscating the matter, and ultimately driving the people into a frenzy.