I am pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, pro-peace and justice for Israel and Palestine. Only by being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, fulfilling the aspirations of both peoples and societies, can there truly be peace, justice and security in the region.
To be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine is to embrace, I believe, the most ethical and humane position. It is also a commitment to an ultimate two-state solution, bringing into being an independent Palestinian nation and a far more secure Israel.
Unfortunately, the current situation in Israel-Palestine runs counter to this humane vision of a two-state solution. A little historical background.
In June 1967 Israel won a smashing victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six-Day War, greatly expanding its territory to the north, south and east through military success. To the east, what had been the Jordanian-administered West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem, came under Israeli control.
Forty-three years of Israeli military occupation and civilian settlement of the Palestinian West Bank have subsequently diminished hopes for a two-state solution. Successive Israeli governments, conservative, moderate and liberal, have backed the aggressive settlement of the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem and its surroundings, making the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital less and less possible.
The prospect of a two-state solution of an independent Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security, the approach favored in poll after poll by the majority of Palestinians and Israelis, has steadily diminished with each new Israeli housing unit and every settlement built in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Whereas only a handful of Israeli Jews lived in Arab East Jerusalem prior to 1967, 190,000 now live there. Where no Jews lived in the West Bank prior to the Six-Day War, more than a quarter of a million Israelis now reside in permanent, growing settlements in the occupied territory.
As the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has steadily increased, so has the degree of official Israeli government control of the more than 3 million Palestinian residents living in the West Bank, and the 210,000 residing in East Jerusalem. Subjects of an occupation policy that strongly resembles apartheid, the West Bank Palestinians naturally resent the Israeli presence in and total administrative control over the land, cities and towns that they have inhabited for centuries.
What exists at present in Israel/Palestine then is a “one-state” solution that is becoming evermore deeply rooted. For the American proponents of such a single-state “Greater Israel” solution — think Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin and the neo-conservatives — the government of Israel and the Jewish settlers of the occupied territories are moving in the right direction, however destructive to both Israel and the Palestinians this approach may ultimately prove to be.
For those of us who still support a two-state solution, the battle will be uphill. But there are signs of hope. A growing number of Israeli and American Jewish organizations, from Peace Now to the newly formed, dynamic, influential J Street “Pro-Peace/Pro-Israel” Political Action Committee, are pushing hard for a secure Israel and an independent Palestine living side by side.
Also committed to the two-state solution are increasing numbers of joint Israeli-Palestinian grassroots organizations and coalitions, national and international human and civil rights groups, progressive Christian and interfaith groups based in Israel and around the world.
On the macro-level, the Obama administration, the European Union and the United Nations all support the two-state solution and advocate it as in the best interests of Israel, Palestine and the world community. Whether the U.S., E.U. or U.N. will ever be able or willing to exert sufficient pressure on Israel to make it change its misguided single-state course is another question.)
The arc of history has indeed been a long and troubled one with respect to the Israelis and Palestinians but we must believe, to paraphrase the prophetic words of Martin Luther King, that it will ultimately bend toward justice. If we are to be creators of this history, we must act accordingly.
Click to view image: 'two state'
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