Engagement Rather than "Disengagement": On keeping Jewish settlers


As you watch Sharon’s “kid gloved” approach to the removal of illegal Jewish settlements in the Gaza area, remember that you are being denied the view of 88 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem currently facing demolition, amounting to the displacement of around 1,000 of this world’s Not The Chosen People.

Before making the case for the allowance of these settlers in Gaza, it is necessary to clarify that we can not –” nor should we try to –” equate the dispossession of the Palestinian people with the current situation of the illegally settled Israelis. The gulf of pain that separates these Peoples is a great one and it must be acknowledged before they can move forward together. I am not referring to historical pain (e.g. the Jewish Holocaust), but rather pain committed against one another and at the hands of one another.

First and foremost, there is the issue of legitimacy and legality. You are not watching the removal of Jewish individuals from “their homes and lands”, but rather, the removal of Jewish individuals who, by fraudulent and illegal means, stole land from an aboriginal community. To deny this reality would not amount to either acceptance or forgiveness, but surrender and capitulation. The aboriginal Palestinian community was terrorized and forcefully expulsed from what was truly (and remains so, under international law) “their homes and lands”.

Moreover, the settlers are being relocated to “prime coastal real estate”, and their losses compensated. There was no active relocation for the Palestinians, many of them simply became disposed, refugees, still the great majority of whom continue to reside in refugee camps, with little hope for a fair resolution to the injustice which they are forced to live daily. Nowhere in any of the plans, peace processes, scents of accord between the occupying Israelis and the occupied Palestinians, has there ever been mention of relocation to prime anything, let alone “prime coastal real estate,” or of compensation to Palestinians for the loss of their homes and their lands.

Second is the question of time and space –” most of the Jewish settlers being relocated are relatively new to the land. Read: The majority of the Jewish settlers are non-aboriginal to the historical land of Palestine. They are people who ‘immigrated’ and subsequently occupied (against international law) their so-called Eretz Yisrael because this land was promised to them by none other than God, belongs to them, and they’ll not allow the “Philistines” to take any part of this land…even if it means carrying out a suicide killing at the temple of Dagon (an irony that should never be lost).

The Original Sin was solidified 57 years ago…and so, now what?


There is much reason to hate, and after the occupier acknowledges and then apologizes for the pain and suffering caused, we must learn to look beyond it. Recognition, ownership and apology for Israeli actions against Palestinians is key to reconciliation for one simple reason: It is owed. The Canadian government apologized for the internment camps and Germany apologized for ‘the’ camps, and the Israeli government owes an apology to the Palestinian community for the last 57 years of occupation, that has now manifest itself in apartheid.

Zionism is a Jewish nationalist vision. It should be studied and understood and the roots of it acknowledged and accepted, for it is the articulation of a dream that many Peoples hold. But unfortunately it fails –” as other ideologies like it have in the past and will in the future –” because at its core, it is exclusionary rather than universal. Zionism denies the right of the aboriginal non-Jewish community to have the same vision for sovereignty and safety in Statehood.

There is a fallacy in espousing human rights for some, and not all. We should not, in good conscience, demand rights for ourselves, and deny them for others. All across the board, human rights are universal, and when they are not, we should work to ensure they become just that. We are the same person, and the rights afforded to me must be afforded equally to you, and without hesitation.

And so it is from this foundation we must begin. This is the time to deconstruct and rebuild a new understanding that will allow both the Palestinian and the Jewish people to live on one land –” revering and respecting one another equally, not as two Peoples, but as one.

I recognize my authoritarian tone when I write that there must no longer be the luxury of hate, revenge, or discrimination, and that it is for this reason the Israeli settlers should stay in Gaza, compensation provided to the Palestinian families on whose land they now live. This particular point should naturally extend to all Palestinians –” including those refugees who are currently being denied their inalienable right to return — as they too should be afforded the same ability to buy and live on any land in what has become known as Israel proper.

This new phase begins after the acknowledgement and ownership of suffering caused the aboriginal Palestinian community. After that, and only in reference to the settlers (as much is to be done elsewhere), it remains to: disarm the settlers, compensate the original Palestinian residents for the land, tear down the fortifications that encircle the ‘settlements,’ and move Palestinians (also without arms) into the former ‘settlements’ as neighbors, treating both as equal citizens before whichever law governs that area.

Do away with the offensively titled “Disengagement Plan” and work toward an “Engagement Plan”, one that builds bridges of understanding between each and every Jew and non-Jew residing on that land. Name all of historical Palestine ‘Israline’, ‘Palisrael’, ‘Canaan’ or even ‘Jacobraham’, only make certain to then afford all religious groups (as well as agnostics and atheists) the exact same rights in that country. Simply put, the only avenue to peace is the one State solution.

This can be done through education, understanding, and empathy that lead to acceptance by all for the benefit of all. Arguably, some initial steps can be taken through new laws that promote understanding. Consider passing a law that actively motivates exchanges between Israeli families and Palestinian families, having them send their children to the others’ home for the duration of a year. By the time these children are adults, they will have a different vision of that land and their circumstances. Pass another law whereby there can be no segregated schooling and within which the Jewish children learn about Islam and Christianity, and the Muslim and Christian children learn about Judaism. Pass a third law that then encourages an integrated work environment for both.

Refuse to believe that the Palestinians and Israelis have come too far to learn how to care about one another. Refuse to believe that there is no room for engaging and respecting one another. Refuse to believe there is no sameness among us. Refuse to bow to and engage the capital ‘O’ in the discourse of difference, that of hate, discrimination, and most importantly, supremacy.

Idealistic? Perhaps, but what is the use of a society that does not work towards a better self every day?