Not all fun and games.

What’s it like to live and work someplace, own a small family business that’s been handed down for generations, and then have someone prevent you, physically and quite literally, from getting to work in the morning?

It’s a lot like this (for English subtitles, click on the “CC” button that shows up when you hit play):


If I were Palestinian, I might object to how friendly this makes the process look, and the “pineapple” joke—“Required to obtain permit: property deed, inheritance order, birth certificate, death certificate, ID card, marriage license, parental ID, parental OK, European passport, vaccination record, lawyer’s signature, notary stamp, official seal, pineapple”—might cut a little too close to home.

And if I were a supporter of the Security Barrier, I might not like that this little clip doesn’t show “the whole story,” and argue that “at least the wall stopped the suicide bombing” (and as someone who lived through years of suicide bombing, I can certainly appreciate that last).

And yeah. There’s no jaunty video game music playing in the background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the simple reality depicted in this video is still the truth: People live and work someplace. They’re maintaining their family farms. A foreign power with which those people are at war comes along and puts up a fence, and then demands a dizzying array of paperwork and fancy bureaucratic footwork so that the people might (might) be able to get to their source of income. While all this is going on, enormous resources are lost. And note that when the video pulls back and shows a wide view, it’s showing another, often entirely unremarked (and in this case, unfortunately untranslated) truth: The wall is built inside the West Bank, not on the Green Line (Israel’s internationally recognized border), meaning that Israel has de facto annexed land away from the Palestinians.

When we say “at least the wall stopped suicide bombing,” we’re saying that we’re okay with this sort of thing happening to countless farmers and families and businesses and villages and towns, all along the 440-mile length of the separation barrier project (a length which, by looping in and out of the West Bank and around various settlements, manages to actually be twice the length of the Green Line itself). We’re saying that when we consider how best to protect individual Israeli lives and the entire Zionist project, it is better to do this, to wage war by construction project proxy, than to find the political will to come up with a diplomatic solution that won’t punish an entire population for the acts of a few.

Which, okay, if that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel.

But let’s at least be honest about it. As bright and breezy as the above is, it reflects a genuine, and genuinely grim, reality, one that’s having shocking, long-term effects on the lives of 2.5-3 million people every day.

Both sides share blame in this conflict, no one’s hands are clean, terrorism is never justified, and just like the Israeli leadership, the Palestinian leadership has missed some good opportunities to make peace.

But only one side has the power to do this.

Crossposted at Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

On a Palestinian childhood. + Building a wall? Not political. Protecting a church? TOTALLY political.

I forgot to post last week’s bi-weekly Open Zion/Daily Beast column! And in the meantime, I posted something short today! So here’s the top of the first post, and since the events I write about at the top of the second post were mentioned here last week, I give you the middle of that one, instead of the top (did you follow that? Excellent).

Palestinian Children

Those of us who advocate for a just Israeli-Palestinian peace (however defined) make a point of clarifying that each side has seen enormous suffering, and we’re right to do so. There are no angels and very few innocents in this war–there’s far more ugly dehumanization, bloodletting, and endless, inconsolable mourning.

But surely if anyone’s innocent, if anyone has a right to claim our non-ideological attention, it’s Israeli and Palestinian children, people born into a conflict not of their making, and thrust into violence through no fault of their own. Shalhevet Pass was only 10 months old when she was killed; Abir Aramin 10 years. Shalhevet was shot in her stroller in Hebron; Abir was shot when the Israeli border patrol opened fire on suspected stone-throwers. The facts surrounding these children’s deaths cannot mitigate them in any way; these are two little girls buried in the ground. There is no excuse or absolution.

But when we talk about each side’s enormous suffering–when I name two children, one Israeli, one Palestinian–and leave it at that, we make it sound as if the scales weigh equally, as if the suffering can be effectively compared. But that’s simply not true. ­

One dead child is one too many. Period. But we’re lying to ourselves if we think that it doesn’t matter that in the past 12 years, 90 Israeli children have died at the hands of Palestinians, while Israel has been responsible for the deaths of 1,331 Palestinian children (note that this figure doesn’t include those killed in airstrikes this month).

And death and bereavement are hardly the only troubles that this conflict brings to a Palestinian childhood.

… for the rest, please click here.

Whose Unilateralism is it, Anyway?

…It could be argued that taking a stand against the UN recognizing the birthplace of Jesus is kind of bone-headed. That Israel could have totally said something like “The birthplace of Jesus is a site revered by millions of Christians around the world, and we agree that it must be protected. We look forward to working with UNESCO on this vital task,” and in so doing, won the hearts and minds of many, not to mention taking the sting out of the Palestinians’ miniscule victory.

But leaving that aside (because really, what am I expecting, miracles?), here’s some news that the AFP reported yesterday about another set of actions there are political and unilateral and “only make peace more distant,” also in the Bethlehem area:

Israel will resume construction of its controversial West Bank barrier within the next few weeks after a five-year delay….

…Work will initially resume around the group of settlements near Bethlehem known as Gush Etzion.

to read the rest of this happy tale, please click here.

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