I discussed our goals of going to Palestine in our initial blog.  We feel this has been a great trip and we have accomplished our goals.  We set out to help individual Palestinians with their medical care, share our knowledge with providers there (this was a two-way street), for father and son to work together for maybe the first and last time, learn about the Palestinian people and Islam,  and finally gain insight into the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I also think it has been of value knowing we have some friends following us (over 1200 views in 6 countries) and maybe passing on some of our new insight into the plight of the Palestinians.  It is hard to live with them for two weeks and not empathize with their cause.  This hotbed will affect all of us, that I am sure.  The more we can learn about the middle east the better.

I would like to give a short primer (very condensed version) on my current understanding of the situation of specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I would first start with a disclaimer this is not comprehensive and I am not even close to an expert.

One always has to start with history.  Zionism is the concept of a Jewish homeland that Jews all over the world can move to and be safe.  There was some writing to make it somewhere else than Palestine.  This began in the 1850’s and then clearly defined by an author named Theodor Herzl in 1896.  He is very honored in Israel.  As we know from biblical history Abraham first settled in this area, moving from I think Ur in current Iraq about 1700 BC.  Because of drought he moved to Egypt where the Jews were eventually enslaved and centuries later Moses led them back to the “promised land”.   First Nebuchadnezzar then the Romans dispersed the Jewish people to Europe, Asia, and North Africa.  After centuries of persecution that only got worse in 19th century Europe and Russian programs (think Fiddler on the Roof) Zionism was born.  At first there was a trickle of emigration to this area with buying of land in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  This became a torrent with the worsening persecution in Europe leading up to WWII and eventually the horrors of the holocaust.  The Jewish people clearly needed a place to call home and live in peace.  Unfortunately there was already someone living there.  Britain which controlled most of the middle east at this time had made promises through various documents to both the Jews and Arabs.  It started to get quite violent as Britain, Jews, Muslims, fought and WWII raged.  Post WWII the newly formed United Nations gave the Jews the right to have their own land which lead to the first Israeli-Arab war.  This was a fight by Israel for their existence and they won and annexed much of what was Palestine, forcing many of the Palestinians off their land to make room for the Zionists.  Israel was born.  Since then more territory was won in the 1967 war (West Bank and Gaza where we were), and in 1973 (Golan).  The Palestinians fought back with terror, bombing cafe’s, public buses, weddings with suicide bombers and lobbing missiles into residential areas from Gaza, West Bank and Lebanon.  Israel reacted.  This lead to the state they are in now basically a lock down.

Unfortunately Zionism continues and all talk of peace has broken down, and new internationally illegal settlements are being built every year in the West Bank and Golan and pushing the Palestinians into ever smaller areas with more and more restrictions.  The politics in Israel is very complicated as well with ultra orthodox jews to secular nationalist Zionists that believe all of the current West Bank, Golan, and Gaza is part of Gods “promised land” and want to annex it into Israel.  Israel is protecting its citizens but when an incident happens they react very violently and it’s always  the innocent that suffer.  The last war in 2014 took the life of 2100 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, of which 495 were children and 250 women.  Most of the survivors were treated at the hospital we were at in Gaza.

The USA role in the middle east has been nothing short of disastrous. Supporting many ruthless dictators if they were anti-Soviet,(we helped Saddam Hussein, Sadat and Mubarak in Egypt, the Shaw), invading Iraq, financial aid (over 237 billion alone to Israel since 1948), blocking enforcing United Nation resolutions against Israel, and supplying weapons to Israel and other Arab states.  The tear gas canisters used to disperse the Arab spring protestors actually said Made in USA on them and our weapons were what was used on the Gazans.  Our government is not popular, a stream of broken promises.  We have supported Israel in all confrontations except for Eisenhower once in 1956 Suez Canal war.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Israeli is not really a religious war although god is invoked often.  It is war over land.  It is Israel pushing the Palestinians off the land they have been living on for centuries and treating them as criminals.  It is like our manifest destiny against our natives and the current situation President Carter (and I agree) likens to Apartheid in South Africa.

So what is the answer?  One state, two states, keep the current situation(not sustainable)?  I really don’t know but it is stalemated at present as Israel has the upper hand and is getting more right-winged. It is getting more and more dangerous everywhere in the middle east as religion is becoming radicalized and important in politics in all the Muslim world and in Israel, and if you think about it even in the US.   I do think the Palestinians will need outside help from the United Nations and not individual meddling by individual countries but as long as the US, France, Britain, Russia, and China has veto power over all UN sanctions that body will remain impotent.

And this is only one flash point in the middle east.  Think Syria and ISIS, and all the Arab spring nations.

The least we can do is hold our government accountable for its actions.  Get informed.  Interestingly the candidate speaking out the most against Israel’s actions and against the concept of Zionism is Bernie Sanders who is Jewish.

 

Anyway it is nice to be home.  We are still jet lagged.

Spring is here.  Wood ducks on my pond.  Cacophony of peepers to put me to sleep.  Thank you for reading and sharing our experience.  I will check from time to time for any feedback but this will be it for my brief writing career.  Peace.

 

MWA2

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Final

  1. Thank you for being a benefit to the Palestinians. It was wonderful to see how Marty could initiate such a wonderful effort and give the old man a little spark again!

    I will challenge you, Mark, because to say that this is “really a war over land” leaves our exposure to your experience, and our potential for understanding the Israeli – Palestinian slightly incomplete. One must ask, “who are these people and what do they believe” in order to grasp the larger picture of why two groups engage in actions intended to eliminate one another. That being said there are always those who are innocent, as you have mentioned, and simply desire to lead their lives peacefully as most humans would. I would not call this a “religious” war as much as I could call it a matter of large groups of human beings identifying with their religion or some aspect of their identities that ultimately leads back to their religion. To explain Zionism certainly helps, but to understand the Jew and his/her beliefs is of the utmost importance to understanding this fatal chaos. I will swing between casual and formal language to create concepts for the simplicity of understanding. I will also (for lack of time) focus only on describing matters from the Isralie/Jewish side.

    As a young person, without a sound education in history, I related to even the word “Jew” with empathy for the horror they experienced when Nazi Germany exercised their idea of supremacy in an attempt to eradicate any DNA that would cloud the pool of humanity —-or what they viewed should be ideal race. It is hard to scrutinize any race or culture that has physically, mentally and emotionally suffered such a tragedy, but in this case it is important to do so. It would be easy to say “all the poor Jews are trying to do is to claim some small location (form a state – Israel), where they can exist with higher concentrations of people with their ethnicity, belief systems and ways of living. Why should this be such a bad thing? Well…..taking a closer look, it would be similar to Native Americans uprising in America today and sending all of us fleeing out of our homes, cities and states to protect our safety and why? Because they have a historical idea that they have the right to the land we dwell on versus living in the present day, looking in the eyes of the humans they desire to harm and realizing the past is the past, this person/group has not personally hurt him/her. I am human, they are human versus I am an Indian and this guy that I’m about to kill and chase out of his house is some mixture of cultures a.k.a. “American”. Can he identify with the present moment to see this? Or will he identify with the imbedded ideas of the past “I am a Native American, I was here first, or similar to “I’m a Jew, I must return to my homeland so the messiah can come”. It’s hard to go against the thought that the Indian or the Jew is right, but remove OLD thoughts. This is now. We are human! Humans suffer greatly and the cause? The minds of men. History repeating itself. Hate breeding hate.

    This is where religion enters in. Identity war. I would never expect “logic” to be a part of large groups of human thinking; we are not (generally) wired to surrender the idea of having to have an identity or agenda. If Jews (and quite frankly Muslims and all of us) were to surrender our attachment to identity, especially religious identity then perhaps peace could be had. At present, most Jews believe in this mission, especially those of reconstructionist Judaism – they desire to purify and bring Judaism back to the Orthodox way, clean up Jewish DNA (no more affairs with those who are not Jewish) and work toward taking control of the land in order to fulfill the prophecy to welcome their messiah. They were SO DESPRATE to know the mind of YHWH (the Jewish name for God), why has God forsaken us…..and to beckon a messiah that the Kabbalahists arose using illogical magic, and attaching numerical value to letters, mathematically seeking to interpret God in their literature…they were doing everything possible to come up with more man made ways to seek the favor and understanding of God’s (YHWH’s) will for them when they felt their God had departed. Now they will do anything to reclaim “holy lands” and places that are so rooted in their religious thinking as places that they are entitled to fight for to fulfill every iota of their scriptures and belief systems that they will senselessly kill in effort to acquire control and land. Why? So they can stand at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem studying the Torah or counting more numbers to seek “YHWH”? Um…..ok. Sounds like insanity. “I will kill, so I can kiss a wall”. Hmmmm. Identity issues. This is not logic.

    Why do I mention all of the above? The lesson is lost unless one points out the value in being HUMAN, and using human sensory mechanisms to determine what is acceptable action, especially in the preservation and respect for life. IF, they (both sides) were to adopt humanistic thinking and drop their religious identity (hence making this truly a religious issue causing war over acquisition of land), they would stop causing harm to one another and simply live. But simplicity is not easy for man kind. It takes a lot of courage to drop old mind patterns and identities in order to live simply and simply live. I realize it’s going to be impossible to see this concept realized, however it is quite simple. Drop the religious identities and motives and all you have left is a human, and humans can find peace and live with one another in peace – they simply chose not to do so because they cling to their identities and belief systems. Existing is easy – eat, sleep, procreate, acquire resources that sustain the process —- repeat—die–done. It is the minds of men (humans) that have the need for anticipation of what is “next” in order to survive; this plays out in nature as a means to anticipate danger of what is around the corner. If we can’t see around the corner our brains are designed to anticipate and prepare. Since man has no way of predicting what is “around the corner” in his life, he creates a structure that appeases his brain, fills in the “gaps” with God, a religion, a heaven or hell (if he so desires to punish himself). Man can not accept what is “now”, in the moment, so he forms and NEEDS ideas for the future; the unknown…..all of this makes him comfortable….to know a heaven exists for his afterlife, or he will have the pleasure of indulging in multiple “virgins” for being a martyr. IMAGINE what conflicts would not exist between Israel and Palestine if these “religious identities” would all together cease?

    Impossible. A majority of mankind cannot accept truth and simplicity even if it is right under his nose.

    Enjoy your frogs.

    Like

    1. Thanks for commenting! Id expect nothing less. I agree its not just about land, certainly did not start that way, and it would be easier to solve or might not have even happened without the religious(clan) differences. This was and oversimplification. At this point the Palestinians we were with want “land for peace” and compared to most of the new mid east conflicts this is more about whose right to live where.

      Like

  2. First comment was lost so here is round two!

    It was great to read how the two of your went about your time helping the Palestinians. Even better that Marty would initiate this effort and give the old man some spark again.

    I will challenge you, Mark, to say that this is “really a war over land” leaves our exposure to your experience, and our potential for understanding the Israeli – Palestinian slightly incomplete. One must ask, “who are these people and what do they believe” in order to grasp the larger picture of why two groups engage in actions intended to eliminate one another. That being said there are always those who are innocent, as you have mentioned, and simply desire to lead their lives peacefully as most humans would. I would not call this a “religious” war as much as I could call it a matter of large groups of human beings identifying with their religion or some aspect of their identities that ultimately leads back to their religion. To explain Zionism certainly helps, but to understand the Jew and his/her beliefs is of the utmost importance to understanding this fatal chaos. I will swing between casual and formal language to create concepts for the simplicity of understanding. I will also (for lack of time) focus only on describing matters from the Isralie/Jewish side.

    As a young person, without a sound education in history, I related to even the word “Jew” with empathy for the horror they experienced when Nazi Germany exercised their idea of supremacy in an attempt to eradicate any DNA that would cloud the pool of humanity —-or what they viewed should be ideal race. It is hard to scrutinize any race or culture that has physically, mentally and emotionally suffered such a tragedy, but in this case it is important to do so. It would be easy to say “all the poor Jews are trying to do is to claim some small location (form a state – Israel), where they can exist with higher concentrations of people with their ethnicity, belief systems and ways of living. Why should this be such a bad thing? Well…..taking a closer look, it would be similar to Native Americans uprising in America today and sending all of us fleeing out of our homes, cities and states to protect our safety and why? Because they have a historical idea that they have the right to the land we dwell on versus living in the present day, looking in the eyes of the humans they desire to harm and realizing the past is the past, this person/group has not personally hurt him/her. I am human, they are human versus I am an Indian and this guy that I’m about to kill and chase out of his house is some mixture of cultures a.k.a. “American”. Can he identify with the present moment to see this? Or will he identify with the imbedded ideas of the past “I am a Native American, I was here first, or similar to “I’m a Jew, I must return to my homeland so the messiah can come”. It’s hard to go against the thought that the Indian or the Jew is right, but remove OLD thoughts. This is now. We are human! Humans suffer greatly and the cause? The minds of men. History repeating itself. Hate breeding hate.

    This is where religion enters in. Identity war. I would never expect “logic” to be a part of large groups of human thinking; we are not (generally) wired to surrender the idea of having to have an identity or agenda. If Jews (and quite frankly Muslims and all of us) were to surrender our attachment to identity, especially religious identity then perhaps peace could be had. At present, most Jews believe in this mission, especially those of reconstructionist Judaism – they desire to purify and bring Judaism back to the Orthodox way, clean up Jewish DNA (no more affairs with those who are not Jewish) and work toward taking control of the land in order to fulfill the prophecy to welcome their messiah. They were SO DESPRATE to know the mind of YHWH (the Jewish name for God), why has God forsaken us…..and to beckon a messiah that the Kabbalahists arose using illogical magic, and attaching numerical value to letters, mathematically seeking to interpret God in their literature…they were doing everything possible to come up with more man made ways to seek the favor and understanding of God’s (YHWH’s) will for them when they felt their God had departed. Now they will do anything to reclaim “holy lands” and places that are so rooted in their religious thinking as places that they are entitled to fight for to fulfill every iota of their scriptures and belief systems that they will senselessly kill in effort to acquire control and land. Why? So they can stand at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem studying the Torah or counting more numbers to seek “YHWH”? Um…..ok. Sounds like insanity. “I will kill, so I can kiss a wall”. Hmmmm. Identity issues. This is not logic.

    Why do I mention all of the above? The lesson is lost unless one points out the value in being HUMAN, and using human sensory mechanisms to determine what is acceptable action, especially in the preservation and respect for life. IF, they (both sides) were to adopt humanistic thinking and drop their religious identity (hence making this truly a religious issue causing war over acquisition of land), they would stop causing harm to one another and simply live. But simplicity is not easy for man kind. It takes a lot of courage to drop old mind patterns and identities in order to live simply and simply live. I realize it’s going to be impossible to see this concept realized, however it is quite simple. Drop the religious identities and motives and all you have left is a human, and humans can find peace and live with one another in peace – they simply chose not to do so because they cling to their identities and belief systems. Existing is easy – eat, sleep, procreate, acquire resources that sustain the process —- repeat—die–done. It is the minds of men (humans) that have the need for anticipation of what is “next” in order to survive; this plays out in nature as a means to anticipate danger of what is around the corner. If we can’t see around the corner our brains are designed to anticipate and prepare. Since man has no way of predicting what is “around the corner” in his life, he creates a structure that appeases his brain, fills in the “gaps” with God, a religion, a heaven or hell (if he so desires to punish himself). Man can not accept what is “now”, in the moment, so he forms and NEEDS ideas for the future; the unknown…..all of this makes him comfortable….to know a heaven exists for his afterlife, or he will have the pleasure of indulging in multiple “virgins” for being a martyr. IMAGINE what conflicts would not exist between Israel and Palestine if these “religious identities” would all together cease?

    Impossible. A majority of mankind cannot accept truth and simplicity even if it is right under his nose.

    Enjoy your frogs.

    Like

  3. Utterly, endlessly fascinating commentary and photos!
    Striking
    My son visited Egypt earlier this year ~ will certainly forward to him.
    Am just beginning the read……………………thank you for letter to the editor, so I would know.
    Thank you for actually “making America great!”

    Like

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