Something has been bothering me more and more. I have followed the debate in the Nexus opinion page with continuing dissatisfaction.
This feeling of unease climaxed Wednesday night when I attended a talk in I.V. Theater aimed at getting to the reality behind the myths of the conflict between Palestine and Israel. Dr. Adelman, a professor in the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, came to provide the UCSB community with what American Students for Israel called a more balanced perception of the bloody acts that have claimed so many minds, hearts and bodies in the Middle East. This talk sounded surprisingly similar, if a bit more pro-Israeli, to what I read daily in the American media.
This was, in fact, exemplified by the Nexus’ coverage of the lecture (“Professor Gives Talk on Middle East Conflict,” Oct. 16), which did not discuss any opposing viewpoints except to mention that those who had them, whatever they consisted of, walked out of the lecture. The Nexus certainly did not praise Israel but did nothing to counter the information given by Adelman. As if they were the only victims, Adelman focused only on the misfortunes of the Israelis, implying that they are the single victims of tragedy in the Middle East. This is far from true.
I think we can all agree that Jewish people have suffered more than their share of cruel acts. I understand that. Like so many of the more fortunate European Jews, many members of my own family were forced to leave their homes behind so as to escape the brutalities perpetrated by the Nazi regime. But the Holocaust did not occur in a vacuum. Jews had been the victims of hatred and intense discrimination for centuries. It was no accident that many Jews felt they had no home in countries in which they held citizenship. This is a very sad and very horrible condition.
That being said, we also need to recognize crimes against Palestinians. Zionists looked to Palestine as a historical homeland – the last place, perhaps, where the Jewish people truly felt at home. Yet, this region had not been empty since the Jewish Diaspora. It was not, as many Eastern European Zionists liked to imagine, “a land without people for a people without a land.”
Let me ask it like this: would we, as citizens of the United States of America, hand over the country to the indigenous peoples of this land, abandon our American laws and customs, and then move to Mexico and Canada? The Native Americans were and are abused, discriminated against, and forced from their lands. Most of this happened only a little more than 500 years ago, not 2000 years ago like the sources of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Don’t we all feel strong ties to the land we inhabit, regardless of whether we are of Native American ancestry or if our families are first-generation Americans?
I understand that this analogy is ambiguous, and it’s supposed to be. Should the Israelis, who were driven off their sacred lands, or the Palestinians, who were more recently forced away, be the indigenous people in that analogy? Many feel it would be just to give the Native Americans back the lands that were theirs. But is that realistic? Dr. Adelman argued situations of colonization are completely arbitrary to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because colonization, “by definition,” requires a home government to finance the conquest . Cort