Over latte in Ramat Gan with one of my favorite local bloggers this week, I came to the conclusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is similar to the abortion issue, in that those who fervently believe they are on the side of God simply cannot accept the validity of the beliefs of those who are on the other side, and feel the need to portray the “Godless” individuals in the most negative way possible. Consider the terminology. When the anti-abortion camp defines itself as being “pro-life”, it broadcasts to the rest of the world the implication that those in the pro-abortion camp must be “anti-life”, when this is clearly not the case. Being in favor of a woman’s right to make her own decisions regarding her body does not make me anti-life any more than being in favor of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians makes me anti-Israel.
There are many who would have you believe otherwise, would have you believe that my ilk and I are the greatest threat to Israel’s existence as a sovereign state. We are called “stupid”, “ignorant” and “naive”, to name but a few of the terms often used against us, or we are gently reprimanded for “not understanding” the situation at hand, as though our beliefs reflect a lack of knowledge and experience rather than having opted for a different path. The name-calling and bullying tactics are pathetic, a reflection of the insecurities felt by some with regard to their own identities. Otherwise, why would they feel the need to resort to such childish antics when faced with an opinion with which they don’t agree? As I’ve mentioned on other occasions (and if I haven’t, I should have), I am always shocked by the degree of petty viciousness with which those of us who are opposed to the occupation and in favor of a just, two-state solution are regularly attacked, whether it be a full-on attack in any one of a variety of forums, or through periodic, thinly veiled barbs that may seem innocuous to others, but obvious to us.
As for the desire to convince us that if we only knew better, we’d surely see the light, well, suffice it to say that I find this scenario far more troubling, as I refuse to be treated as a child whose thoughts and ideas are deemed inconsequential by those who claim to know better. Making the situation even more absurd is that many of the more critical individuals do not even live in Israel (or do not have any direct ties to the country), popping up to throw in their passionate two cents before returning to their own lives, with either little or no actual comprehension of the intricate facts on the ground. Ironically, these same people who judge from abroad, claiming to know what is happening in my own backyard far better than I, make the irrational assumption that because I am in Israel, I have no concept of what is “really” going on in the rest of the world, or how the rest of the world views Israel, as though I do not have the very same access to global media as they do. We are keenly aware of what the world thinks of us, and more in touch with reality than you could possibly imagine, though perhaps it is not the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East that you choose to accept.
I am inclined to make another abortion comparison, as I watch people with no direct, vested interest in the situation (those living abroad) attempt to dictate the rules of the game for those of us whose lives will be directly affected by the outcome, often (though not always) invoking God and religion (as in “God promised this land to the Jews”, and other such sentiments that are simply unrealistic in light of the fact that such an argument will not cause the Palestinians to pick up and leave en masse) to justify their need to be involved in matters that do not concern them. I am awed by the strident, almost militant, tones, the manner dismissive of all opinions that differ from their own, and the attempts to belittle and invalidate those who proffer such opinions, as though the opinions of those individuals directly affected by such decisions are irrelevant. Opposition to my life choices should not be anyone’s cause celebre. Several of those on the right (though certainly not all) who live here are not much better, though obviously, the abortion comparison doesn’t work in this case, as they have just as much of a right to their opinions as I do to mine.
It is rather telling when people who fail to see the occupation and subjugation of an entire people as a bad thing are the ones who consider me to be the radical, anti-Israel, self-hating Jew, don’t you think?