My reply to this post from a former colleague who 'knee-jerk' supports Israel unconditionally, no matter what:
"Because Israel, one of the very few 'nationalities' in the world basing their citizenship upon a religion, openly encourages its own extremists to continue what the British did originally by occupying the land of the Palestinians and building 'settlements' -- years after assuring the world they will stop and reverse these illegal appropriations. Full stop. Nothing confusing or mysterious about it."Her response:
"Not true all religions live in Israel, Christians, Muslims. In Muslim countries other religions are slaughtered. Israel opens it's arms to any religion. Israel only has maybe 1/16th of the land. They have given up land over the years. Look how well some of the Arabs are taking care of their own land it's in ruins. The Jewish people need a place to go."And my long-winded reply:
"Somewhat true, but there is a fundamental problem underlying what is always called "The Jewish State" and although it is a very deep and never-discussed issue, it's the same problem that Putin has with Syria's Assad, which is more obvious.
Assad is not only a dictator, he's the ultimate dictator, the one every 'start-up dictator' wants to be -- a king. What I mean by this is that every father wants, irrationally, for his kids to be the same as him in most ways AND to be better off. It's the reason humans always want their kids to follow in their career footsteps (as names like "Carpenter" and "Smith" attest to), take over the family business and inherit more money than the parents did. Dictators want their kids to be the next dictator, like the Jong Il dynasty in North Korea. They want to create 'royal families,' like we see among all the world's 1%. Putin wants this, too, and he has already set up his two daughters with his incredible (consistently denied) wealth and influence over Russia's oligarchs. Sadly for him he has no son to groom to become the next Russian king, but he may try to pull it off with his daughter's husband.
All this goes to say that if Putin does not fully (and at a profit for Russia's arms industry) support the maintenance of Assad in power, he opens the door to the world (and especially inside Russia) saying: "Even Vladimir Putin says have the legitimate right to oust dictators from power and install democratically elected governments!" (Not an ideal solution, as we see in the broken condition of democracy in America, but the best alternative we have.) In other words, if Putin supports ousting Assad by outside coalition military force, then it follows that he supports ousting himself by outside coalition military force.
How does this conundrum, this "Catch-22," apply to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, or even to supporting the notion of a Palestinian state? Well most obviously if Israel says yes to recognition of a
legitimate Palestinian state, they risk the world (led by the Arab world) then saying that this recognizes that the Nation of Israel is illegitimate, being that it is founded upon land stolen from the Palestinians by the British and then given to a religion (a rather odd concept, it must be admitted).
But to bring this argument around to the settlement conundrum, these occupations of parcels of land throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip by (let's be honest, timid folks don't willingly move into the enemy's backyard) Israeli extremists (many of whom, not being of Israeli origin, are only nominally Jewish) are first of all opportunistic (primarily the settlements and access roads that were not purchased at 'fair value' from the Palestinian owners of the land), but secondarily are fundamentally symbolic to the continued existence of Israel and to the nation's security.
By the latter I mean that, like Putin having no choice but to actively support a fellow dictator, the moment Israel agrees to stop occupying Palestinian territory (and actually pulls their 'settlers' out) is the moment that the rest of the world can legitimately then say, by extrapolation, that Israel cannot exist because it is founded on occupied land (i.e. the State of Israel was created in/on former Palestinian territory as well). Furthermore, if the very existence of 'The Jewish State' is based upon the need for the Jews to fight for and occupy their 'homeland,' then the moment that there is no fight, no catalyst for ongoing conflict and 'defense,' then that is the moment that Israel's reason for being risks destruction.
Without a clear purpose, a sustained and never-ending threat, all the support that Israel gets militarily and financially (AND morally), from much of the Developed World becomes less urgent, if needed at all. At that moment the Palestinians gain the upper hand in starting to ramp up support in the Arab world and elsewhere to evict Israel from the land they took from Palestine.
The settlements are a necessary evil, an ongoing irritant, a catalyst for conflict and suicide bombings and such from the extremists on the other side that ensures that Israel must maintain the world's second most sophisticated armed forces and a huge source of profit for the American and global arms industry. Without that irritant, Israel is at risk, so the conflict will never end until the majority of Palestinians are sufficiently wealthy and cared for that they no longer care about taking back the land that Israel is built upon. Ponder that last point. To maintain the status quo, Israel would be smart to keep the Palestinians impoverished forever (and they employ a complex system to do just this).
From a military standpoint, it only makes the best sense in the world to have your country's supporters, especially the most extremely nationalistic and ready-to-do-battle citizens, evenly distributed across enemy territory. When you look at a map of the settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, you can see this success of this military and political tactic.
Lastly, you picked up the cry of the German Jews following the end of the Second World War (the few remaining ones who either had survived the death camps, or were not identified by the Nazis, or had successfully escaped Germany and the occupied countries). "The Jewish people need a place to go." Which Jewish people? The Canadian Jewish people? Or the Jews of all the other nationalities in the world who have no need to go anywhere?
Israel is filled with people who were originally of other nationalities. In fact, virtually the entire Israeli populace today never lived in a country where they were so severely persecuted that they needed to escape (ALL the religious people of the USSR were not allowed to practice their religions). Even when Israel was created, ALL the Jews were at that point citizens of other countries and most were not being persecuted.
The collective guilt that the Allies and many other countries felt about the Holocaust was the motivator behind the creation of Israel, but once that undeniable horror was over and the German Jews who had taken up citizenship in other welcoming countries were getting on about their lives, there was no desperate need to create a country for them to move to. This is the underlying story of the faith, however, that "God's chosen people" (name one religion that doesn't claim the same thing for its followers} had been cast out of their homeland and were now wandering in the wilderness, enslaved and pining to one day return and take back their homeland -- however that ancient reality had long ago given over to a new reality, that the Jews were largely un-persecuted citizens of most of the world's countries.
So even at this very fundamental level, that of a group of people who identify with an ancient story written thousands of years ago in a very different world where the entire global population was perhaps 200 million (.03% of today's population), Israel is at risk of being made irrelevant by modernity -- UNLESS the Jews of the world can perpetuate the narrative. Think about that, we have a new country whose existence is not based upon geography or common language like most are, but upon a story written down more than 2,000 years ago.
Once the new generations of humans frees themselves of religious dogma (and that irreversible trend has begun among youth in non-fundamentalist countries, and it is contagious), then the very story that Israel is founded upon becomes largely irrelevant. For this reason alone Israel will be wise to continue to provoke her neighbours to attack her and thus keep her defensive ranks, and reason for being, on high alert and keep the support money (and profits) flowing. The origins of Israel were persecution and conflict -- that she continues this tradition, of actively provoking persecution and conflict, is her reason for being. With peace comes the end of her reason for existing. Now that truly is a very sad human story."
An Addendum: Having grown up in a Jewish neighbourhood with close friends who I practiced Bar Mitzvah preparations alongside of and parties and gatherings I attended as the 'token gentile,' I must say there is a rarely talked about aspect to being a Jew that comes into play as a constant refrain throughout the history of the Jewish people, and shows up as a strong undercurrent in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is certainly not exclusive to the Jews, but it is fundamental to their 'way of being': if you 'self-ostracize' your own group, if you make it clear to outsiders that "you can't join our special club" and "we only help our own tribe members," if you 'wear on your sleeve' that your people are different from anyone else (with the implication that this means you are better), then naturally, in our very social species, others are going resent you. They will resent your group's successes and your exclusivity. Given the opportunity, the more 'bully-minded' outsiders will not just tease your group's members, they will persecute you -- and then your tribe's historical story of ages-old persecution will be forever true, a 'self-fulfilling prophecy.'
One key outcome of belief in a religion that is not so great for our species: it is our instinct, buried deep within our overly complex human brains, that "our tribe alone is special." This instinct was vitally important to our survival over 7 million years of nomadic evolution, but it gets in the way of peaceful coexistence in the .001% of our existence (~7,000 years) during which we have lived in permanent settlements.
Click the following link to read my previous post about my conviction that all human conflict is NEVER religiously motivated, per se, it is motivated by a low-empathy 'power-collector' individual who is high up on the psychopath spectrum who manipulates and motivates the sociopath cadre of followers and their minions of young, deviant soldiers by leveraging their egos, their nationalistic ("my tribe") tendencies and their need to belong to do their bidding. Today ISIS or ISIL soldiers are an ideal example of this.