Growing up in Zimbabwe, the mandatory Monday morning school wide assembly in Primary School was always flanked by huge potraits of Yaser Arafat. The themes were always about “Perseverence”, “Identity”, “Liberation” and such words that embodied the condition of the Palestinian people.
In 7th Grade, we spent Friday afternoon molding bricks to sell to construction companies. The money went to assist Palestinians in refugee camps.
I learned about suicide bombers back then, at 12 years old. I was puzzled about why teenagers would be so brazen to fight an army tank with rocks. The stupidity of that.
But then, I also learned that Palestinians had no options. They were not allowed to have an army, so their only weapons were the abundant rocks in the desolate settlements they had been forced to move to.
Their bodies were their tanks, and suicide bombers were their army.
My heart bled for Palestine.
About 3 years ago, I picked up “My Promised Land: the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel”. It is indeed exactly what the title concludes.
I developed a deep empathy for Israel. Here were a people who had been persecuted throughout history.
The famous and most hated stereotype of them comes as a result of Jewish people not being allowed to pursue any other careers besides the most tedious — tax collection and accounting.
They had really never had a permanent homeland because they were still searching, or waiting for the “Promised Land” from God; and they were hated everywhere they went for reasons I’m still not sure of. They faced obliteration from the face of the earth if Hitler had had his way.
My heart bled for Israel.
Yet these “homeless” people have survived through the ages, and through every threat. Not only have they survived, they have thrived and garnered lots of success along the way.
The tragedy is; given their existential threat (this threat is real. There are many who would like to see Jews wiped off the face of the earth), they have also become tormentors to Palestine. Stripping it off of dignity and it’s right to exist as a free state. A classic case of the tormented becoming the tormentor.
If you’re really interested in a simple way to understand what’s going on, pick up this book. The Author is Jewish, but by no means biased. I understood a lot from this book, and it lays out the conflict in an easy, non-pandering way.
Years later, I’m all grown, with kids of my own learning about this conflict at roughly the same age I was when it was introduced to me. Somewhere in Palenstine and Israel, is a Mom probably born the same day as me. They have lived in the conflict their whole lives. The Palestinian Mom has lived in a camp her whole life; and now their 10 year olds are living in that same conflict. Only now, the conflict is escalated by the rug of hope being dragged from under their feet. A hope for peace that was maintained by an “international capital”.
That hope is gone.