Thursday, December 8, 2011

Searching “hearts and souls” for Peace

By: Fadi Zanayed                         

Hatred and a feeling of superiority are two core elements that prevent a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  After 62 years of mutually inflicted atrocities against each other, the parties are seething with hatred. During these decades of authoritative rule over the Palestinians, Israelis have acquired a feeling of superiority. Getting beyond these attributes will take time and much healing before there will be a feeling of trust and cooperation even after the ever eluding peace finally arrives.

Hatred is a very troubling attribute that is not easily dismissed.  While the Jewish experience is full of unfortunate history of hatred inflicted upon them, it seems that all the centuries of stored up vengeance has come out against the Palestinians. The Palestinians are paying the price for history’s anti-Semitism. All the hatred inflicted upon the Jewish people is being avenged in the form of hatred toward the Palestinians.

In 1948 the United Nations, a new world body formed after two devastating world wars that saw the ugly nature of hatred and self-righteous superiority of one race over all others, tried in an altruistic attempt to reverse the historical anti-Semitism crimes of present and past generations by creating the State of Israel upon a land that was predominately that of the Palestinians. While that attempt was noble and within the reasoning for the creation of the UN, to solve and prevent conflicts around the world, it fermented the present hatred between Israelis and Palestinians. 

While the UN tried to teach the world that Hitler’s German aspirations of racial superiority were absolutely abhorrent, that lesson did not sink into the Israeli mindset.  Israelis believe that they are superior to others, especially the Palestinians.  Whether it is the Torah that gives the Jewish people this feeling or they see themselves as more cultured and Westernized than the Palestinians, the Israelis have not learned from history and thus are repeating the negative history perpetrated against Jews upon the Palestinians.

Before and after the creation of Israel, one atrocity committed by one party was and is avenged by another atrocity.  Regardless of who committed the first assault, the perpetual cycle of an eye for an eye mentality has spiraled out of control. Entrenched in this vicious cycle is the Western colonization mindset that needs to exploit an “inferior” people for economic and political gain.  The centuries of the Jewish diaspora within Western societies in which the exploitation of the East by Western nations was the norm, i.e. Europeans domination of South Africa and India, developed into the Israeli psychic that encourages the unfounded belief in the morality of its domination of the Palestinians.   

Colonial dominance and mentality are antiquated ideologies of the twentieth century and earlier times. Yet, Israel is clinging onto to an apartheid system of control over the Palestinians that cannot be long endured. While the pre-technological revolution and Jewish domination of the press allowed Israel to hide its ever expanding colonization of Palestinian land, i.e. settlement expansions, the new age of the internet where anything anywhere can be broadcast to the world instantaneously has exposed Israel for what it truly is—an apartheid regime which is not unlike the “Grand Apartheid” scheme of the 1960’s executed by the Afrikaner minority in South Africa to emphasize territorial separation and military repression.

In the context of resolving the conflict, Palestinians must not allow the Israelis to feel superior.   When Israel negotiates for the release of one of its captured soldiers for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners the value of an Israeli is quantified greater than a Palestinian. This is wrong.   Similarly, when the Palestinians allow Israel to dissect their land into zones and allow Israel to give them limited powers and authority the equality between the two peoples is disturbed.  Palestinians are like children demanding “their own space” like a child demanding “his/her space” from a parent.   There is no parent/child relationship between Israelis and Palestinians and the Palestinians must stop acting like children.

This Israeli psychology of superiority is at the very heart of the conflict. Mohandas Gandhi’s statement that “A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people” describes the current feeling of superiority within the Israeli mindset.  When one culture feels superior to another, hatred develops.  Discrimination follows. Laws are implemented and interpreted differently between two classes of people in the same society.

Israelis need to understand that they need to come to terms with their feelings; with the  illegal occupation and domination of the Palestinians—just like the Southern American Whites came to terms with centuries of discrimination against African-Americans and just like the Afrikaners came to terms with the South African apartheid system.

Israelis must come to terms within their “hearts and their souls” to end the occupation of Palestine. 

(  © Copyright, Fadi Zanayed.  Publication or distribution of this material is allowed provided its content is not altered and the source and its author are cited.)

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