Disintellectualizing the Peace Process
By Tali Shapiro at Jun 02, 2009
Warning: The following may not be an angry rant, but also couldn't pass as an attempt for journalism by any stretch of the imagination. Please tread carefully as I allow you free entrance into my stream of consciousness.
A definite change has come over me, since I started visiting the West Bank and the rift between my world and the politicians' is widening. There's a distinct difference between all the complex formalities between Netanyahu and Obama, and Clinton and Abbas, and my own relations with the Palestinians and other international activists. While politicians call it "international relations" and formulate strange rituals of courtesy, I find that no matter who I'm addressing, as long as I come in peace, with a smile, our international relations will be just dandy, and any cultural faux pas immediately forgiven (with a smile).
I'd really like to intellectually analyze all the meetings that are happening, lately, in the White House, but really, I've heard this kind of talk before. And though I was very happy to read Clinton be specific ("[Obama] wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions..."), I just refuse to celebrate until I read the human rights groups' reports that prove it.
It's probably just the anarchist in me, but it seems the detachment of politicians from "their" people and their interests in furthering their own gain/agendas/values is what brings on these complex situations, in the first place. As demented leaders air-strike civilians (overseas or in the back yard), college students act as human shields for their perceived "enemies", begging an answer to the question "can't we all just get along?"
"Yes we can!" Said Obama, and I find myself perplexed yet again at the grim reality in which I'm being a responsible citizen and getting along, thus furthering peace, while my government sends my children to shoot gas canisters at me. And what does Obama do? He says "stop the settlements". I understand the need to be cautious and not do anything too dramatic, and not offend either side, but quite frankly, my government is criminal. And since when do we kiss the ass of a mass murderer?
This is where the stream diverts to the UN (I know, I know, all you veterans told me- US controls the UN). All 30 articles of the International Declaration of Human Rights are being violated daily. What was it written for, if you continually allow these violations? If I'm going to have jungle law, than I'd rather have no law at all. If I'm going to have to strategize and formalize every move I make, in order to talk with my neighbors, it's not going to be any wonder we don't get along.
One of the most poignant quotes I've heard about the occupation came out of Michael Palin (bold by me):
"Most depressingly, the policy of West Bank settlements deliberately prevents the people of the area, Jewish or Palestinian, from coming together for any kind of mutual interest or to exchange or discuss their experiences. With human contact virtually forbidden, it's hard to imagine how political change can ever be effected."
That's the point. That's the be-all-end-all of this situation. Had Israelis and Palestinians been able to mingle, this wouldn't happen. My government is extremely good at dividing and conquering. One simple realization came to me,as I was having what can only be referred to as a "spiritual experience": When I sit with my neighbors- eat from their plate, socialize, play music, engage in simple friendly trade, laugh, help in time of need, god-forbid fall in love- I'm doing the one thing my government fears the most- Making peace.