Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Palestinians = Humans.

Without elaborating on why this issue has come up, or the source of my frustration, I'll just say that it was argued to me recently that the top issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the status of Palestinian refugees.

I'm not going to deny that the Palestinian refugee crisis is incredibly important. The settlements, the status of East Jerusalem, all these things will have to be dealt with in order to achieve any sort of agreement. None of these things are the top priority.

The top priority is to stop Israeli brutalization, animalization, and general degradation and humiliation of the Palestinian people. The single most important thing to be done by Israel is to recognize that Palestinians are human beings, and to treat them as such. If Israelis recognized the humanity of Palestinians, and acted accordingly (with respect for their individual dignity), I have no doubt that both sides could sit down and hammer out some agreement, even if the issues are complex and even if it would take some time to work it all out.

Palestinians are human beings.

Demanding that a Palestinian demolish his own home in East Jerusalem, while simultaneously rejecting all Palestinian building permits in East Jerusalem and approving Israeli settlers' permits, does not respect that man's dignity as an individual human being.

I encourage everyone to read a May 2009 report by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law. You need not be an expert on international law to understand the report, so it's worth reading.

For the record, I do not believe that Israel should cease to exist, be destroyed, or anything else like that. I do believe that Israelis have the right to live in peace and security, free from attacks or the threat of attacks.

I do not believe that Israel has the right to deny to the Palestinian people their right to self-determination. I do not believe that Israel has the right to occupy Palestine. I do not believe that Israel has the right to impose a devastating humanitarian crisis on Gaza. I do believe that Israel must respect the human rights of Palestinians.

Above all else, I believe that the Israelis must acknowledge, and in acknowledging act accordingly, that the Palestinians are human beings. Israel must treat Palestinians with the dignity and respect they are due as human beings.

That shouldn't be controversial.

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