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Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Arab-Israel Conflict

This blog usually focuses on matters related to the Not-for-Profit sector. That is what I am genuinely passionate about and that is what my area of expertise is. Occasionally, I tend to comment on other matters, for no other reason, other than they get me going, positively and negatively. Some matters make me prick my conscious and really get me thinking. And so, I give my opinion. The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of these matters.

I come from a Jewish background. My late parents, who both passed away within the last 15 years or so here in Australia, survived the Holocaust and lived through the horrors of the concentration camps, as many of their ilk did. They also lost their entire families which, from what I understand, consisted of large numbers on both my mother's (albeit 1) and my father's side. They very rarely spoke of them. Once again, this is not a strange phenomenon amongst those European Jews who survived. Many lost large numbers of their family.

I am not a practicing Jew as I have some issues and challenges with organised religion - but that is a very personal view, but rather see myself very much as a spiritual person, with a personal focus on making sure I leave this world in a better way than when I came into it, for the sake of my children, their children and humanity generally. This is probably something I will never achieve, but hey, might as well continue to give it a go.

The extensive reading that I have undertaken of the Holocaust events (and very substantial indeed), what led to it, what followed from it, and of course what occurred during it, gave me an insight into human behaviour and what humans are capable of, both good and bad. And there does exist a great deal of both, in all races, in all cultures, in all religions, and in all times.

I always felt that Jewish people were special, because of what they suffered and for how they survived, for what they have achieved, and of course, for what they should have learned. And this is where I find myself getting quite depressed about the current state of Israeli politics, especially with regard Israeli aggression towards the Palestinians. In fact, I would suggest it is more than merely aggression. It is disgusting and I go out of my way to ensure that people who know me, understand that there is a very substantial difference between being a Jew and being a Zionist. The political and religious dichotomy should be clear.

One of the key messages of the Holocaust, is that peoples of all shapes and sizes must have hope in their future and in the future of their children and beyond. They must be treated with dignity and they must have the ability to be responsible for their own destinies and their own futures. I always thought, naively obviously, that by experiencing what the Jews of Europe experienced during WWII, Jewish people would never treat other human beings the way the Nazis treated them. Seeing what the Israeli's are doing to the Palestinians in the modern era, makes me realise the extent of my naivety.

I remember back in the late 1980's having a conversation with an Israeli, in a professional context. During the conversation we started talking about the Holocaust, but for the life of me I can't, to this day, remember how it came up. As we got deeper and deeper into the issues, he indicated to me that the European Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves because they allowed themselves to be led to the slaughterhouse, and did not fight for their lives. He then indicated that it was the modern Israeli citizen and soldier who would never allow that to happen and they will continue to treat the Palestinians and the general Arab world in the manner that they, are in order to protect Israel and to ensure that the Holocaust never ever happens again.

My conversation with this individual ceased at that point, as I realised that there was no basis for a logical, or calm, discussion with him, given that nearly all of my parents relatives perished in that event and here was this guy telling me it was their own fault. Better to withdraw from such a conversation rather than to merely inflame things! He was getting rather hot under the collar I recall.

There are two elements to this story that are both sad and frightening.

Frightening was the fact that this man was a high school teacher back in Israel and was apparently, at the time, on 'secondment' to an Australian based Jewish day school at the time. I pity his students, both here and in Israel!

Sadly, this conversation took place in the 80's. It would appear nothing has changed!

I doubt if it ever will.

Continued building of settlements on the West Bank ensures - in fact guarantees, that no 2-State solution is possible - and guess what - the Israeli's do not want the solution and it's time that Australia and the United States and other allies realise this. But Jewish political influence reigns supreme!

I am not pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel per-se. Both these nations need to live in peace and in harmony, side-by-side. Both peoples have rights and they both have obligations. But the world must see the balanced solution with a balanced mind. Otherwise I fear for the future of my children.

Once again, naively, may I suggest that the reasonable elements in Palestine and the reasonable elements in Israel get together and nut this out and that Jews who live in New York and Sydney and Melbourne stay the hell out of the issue. May be then we might get some positive outcomes.

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