Israeli-Palestinian conflict: who is to blame?

gazaWell, I waited to give my opinion about what is happening in Gaza,

I waited for many reasons: family reasons and my love and admiration for Israel took me to support the Jewish side but, having lived for a while in East Jerusalem, my heart couldn’t avoid understanding the reasons of my Palestinian brothers. So I decided to wait and see, to try to be as objective as I can. Then, a couple of days ago, a chat with some members of my Congregation changed my mind: too many things are unknown to people just reading very partial Western press reports.

What I’d like to do is, therefore, not to give a judgment (which, to me, would be impossible as I think, like many others, that all are somehow right and all are somehow wrong in this situation) but just to give some pieces of information.

Let’s start with some history.

  1. In 1948 the State of Israel was formed in the British protectorate of Palestine. Why? Why there? An obvious answer: as the Jews needed a State protecting them and this State had to be in the Holy Land. Well, let me tell you a thing: this is the root of the mess. As first thing, the so-called “Holy land” was already occupied by another population. Honestly, the claim that that area had been a Jewish area in the past means for nothing: the past is past and to ask for a “restitution” has no meaning as, in example, the “Roman” Italians could ask for a “restitution” of Algeria and Spain or the “Macedonian” Greeks for a “restitution” of Egypt or Afghanistan adopting the same parameter. Moreover, quite clearly the “gift” of a State to the Jews was an obvious attempt to indemnify them for the “Shoa” and the inanity of Western powers to fight against a genocide. Perhaps I am wrong but, to me, the idea of a State born from an incredible carnage sounds terrible. This said, surely the Jews can’t be blamed for any of these elements and, moreover, many first generation Zionists had legally bought the lands they were occupying.
  2. The first hypothesis of an Israeli State forecast the Jewish occupation of just a part of Palestine: two States for two population had to be formed but this was unbearable for Muslim people due to the intangibility of the “Land of Islam”. So they attacked and we all know the result: three wars, all moved by the Arabs, all won by the Israelis progressively occupying new territories. Palestinians had no more a State and their reaction was what, at that time, they believed was the only way to fight for their homeland: terrorism (by the way, the Israelis had used the same method against the British occupation). And the equation Palestinians = terrorists began to exist.
  3. Fast forward. Many things (Sabrah and Chatilla included) had happened before two enlightened men (both former “terrorists”, each one by his side), Rabin and Arafat understood two population couldn’t live a perennial war and signed an agreement and a road-map to create two States. Up to here it’s difficult, almost impossible to say who had been right or wrong: Israelis and been given a land and managed to defend it, Palestinians had been taken their land and used all methods to have it back. On both sides there were “doves” (Rabin and Arafat are two clear examples) and on both sides there were “hawks”, closed minded blind people unable to overpass prejudices and (in many cases justified) hatreds.
  4. Unfortunately, after the murder of Rabin by an Israeli extremist the hawks prevailed and the hawks had a face and a name: the one of the doubly (Tel Aviv and Den Hague) convinced war criminal Ariel Sharon who became the new premier of Israel. With all my love and respect for Israel, I confess to believe that the unbalance of responsibilities between Israelis and Palestinians started here. Does anybody remember his “walk” on the Temple esplanade with “just” two hundred bodyguards? Does anybody understand the feeling of a Muslim (and any Arab in the world can tell you that the Palestinians are considered among the most moderate Muslims in the Islamic areas) in seeing a sacred place violated by armed soldiers? The result? The first “Intifada” with kids throwing stones sent to prison for years; the abortion of the road map process with the declaration by Israel of “Jerusalem perennial indivisible Israeli capital” and the ghettoization of the Palestinian territory into the two poorest desert areas of the former Palestinian territory (Gaza and the West Bank); the continuous violation even of this territory with the building of new Jewish colonies needed because of the mad actuation of a “law of the coming home” allowing thousands of people from all over the world to come to live in a strip of land just as they had a light (and often false) Jewish heritage. And, on the other side, the new violent Intifadas, the “kamikaze” bombing attacks, the Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon, the political radicalizing of many Palestinians, the “help” by Arab Countries (has anybody ever checked the number of missiles smuggled to Gaza by the Saudi Arabian government, so “friendly” to the West?!).

An here, finally, we come to the point. Let me tell you a thing: 20 years ago Hamas was nothing but a bunch of Sha’aria fanatics execrated by the majority of the Palestinians. Even among the young students of the Arab universities they couldn’t overpass 10% of the votes. What happened then? I don’t want to answer directly. I will just try to list a series of data, all certified by international organizations.

  1. If you are a Palestinian Israeli your possibilities to go to good schools and to receive a good education are less than 1/7 of the ones of a Jewish Israeli, due to a complex racist and religious school system. Anyway, even if you manage to receive a good instruction and to go to university, your only possibility to improve your life-conditions is to migrate: in Israel you won’t work in the public system, you won’t be the boss of any Jew, you won’t teach to Jews, you won’t … , you won’t …. Should I go on? Isn’t it surprising that 2/3 of the car repairers of the West Bank have a university master in “Mechanical Engineering”?
  2. If you are a Palestinian from Gaza and from the West Bank you depend on Israel. It is a matter of fact. The Gaza airport has been closed at the time of the second Intifada, the access to the Golan Springs is obviously reserved only to the Israelis, the whole West Bank is, simply, the most unproductive area of the whole former Palestinian territory, with a land productivity which is the lowest in all the East Mediterranean costal area, etc. You are, therefore, forced to move to work. Where? The obvious answer is: “to Jerusalem”. Unfortunately to move to Jerusalem to find a job you need a pass and the pass is given to you only if you can prove to have a job (already a job, I mean) in Israel. If, by chance, you manage to have a job and you are in the lucky bunch (I met school teachers working for some 200$ per month only to have the possibility to go to Jerusalem and to be a tourist guide in the afternoon), you are, anyway, everything but sure. Every morning you must wake up at 4 o’clock to be at work by 8 o’clock because you need to calculate the average two hours you need to pass the “wall check”. Disgracefully, from time to time the government decides to close the check point for one, two days, sometimes a week. Naturally, your job flies away forever and you come back in the number of the Bethlehem or Ramallah unemployed people (the highest in the whole Middle East) or of the university graduated olive wood carvers preparing small crosses and statues for the tourists and selling them for a few coins.
  3. The “wall”, yes, the “wall”, one of the most shameful buildings on Earth. Its building meant the confiscation of 157 square km of Palestinian land, the destruction of 100.000 olive trees, the closing of 57 water pits. Its building meant the incredible situation of Palestinian people living near it and needing to ask for a permission to live in their homes every year, the incredible situation of peasants of the West Bank having their fields beyond the wall and needing to cross a check point (this means a two hours queue) each time they want to cultivate them, the incredible situation of West Bank motorways without check points and open only to colonizers while the Palestinians must use dirt roads, the incredible situation of tenths of pregnant women and newly born babies who already died at a check point while waiting to have the possibility to go to the closest hospital in Jerusalem (6 km from the wall), the incredible situation of rationed water coming from Israel as the Israeli government decided that a Jew needs 350 lt. of water per day, a colonizer 480 lt., but a Palestinian just 80 lt. (OMS declared that every human being needs 100 lt. per day).
  4. And … all the little things, the little daily humiliation hard to list but easy to see at every corner if you live in East Jerusalem. The constant presence of Israeli soldiers, the check of passes every second hour, the way policemen treat you, the unfair distribution of social services between East and West Jerusalem, the arrogance of the colonizers going around with weapons, etc. Too many times I heard by English, Greek, Russian Christian religious leaders living in Jerusalem the sentence: “We are in front of an ethnic cleaning up perpetrated by the Israeli government on the Palestinians, living in such a miserable way they are forced to leave …”!

So, is it so strange that Hamas, the former marginal party of the religious fanatics gained more and more consent among a population considered the least fanatic of the Arab world? Is it so strange that Palestinians began to vote for a party helping them economically and socially, declaring to fight against the oppression while Al Fatah, the majority party tries to negotiate with the Israeli government, sometimes obtaining never fulfilled promises and many times just denials?

Honestly, to it’s not so strange and, in fact, I often wonder how it could happen that Hamas is still a minority party!

Please, pay attention: I am not saying Hamas is right. Hamas leaders are just a bunch of idiot fanatic terrorist, caring about their deviated vision of Islam more then they care about their people (just think about the refusal of the ceasefire!). I am saying they are seen by many as an alternative to a hell life and this, paradoxically, makes of the Israeli government producing those hell conditions the most important sponsor of Hamas.

Once again, please, pay attention! I am speaking only about the Israeli government, not about the Israelis. I am speaking about Netanyahu and his clique, I am speaking about the Likud, Kadima, the colonizers’ party, the religious extremists, not about an Israeli population only exhausted by living in fear and convinced by these terrorists (yes, I do consider this government as terrorist as Hamas!) the ethnic cleaning up of the Palestinians is the only solution! The Israeli population is a victim exactly like the Palestinian population closed in Gaza like in a mouse trap: the only difference is that they are victims of rich, cute, pseudo-politically correct terrorists while the Palestinians are victims of rude, ignorant religious fanatics and this is, in my opinion, what marks the difference between the 200 victims of Gaza and the only victim of the Israeli Defense Force).

Is it possible to break the spiral? I don’t know! Surely it’s late, I hope not too late! But if a way is possible this way is to change the situation of the Palestinians now! This way is to condemn the life conditions in which this Israeli government forces the Palestinians, is to put an embargo on the pluri-condamned rightist government before it fulfils its subtle cultural genocide process. In South Africa it worked against the Apartheid and here the situation is much more similar then many people think!

The difference? The difference is that in South Africa all the world agreed in putting an embargo which, at list, made many oppressors think back about what they were doing. On the contrary, in this case any U.N. resolution against Israel has been blocked by the USA government “veto” (you know, the power of electoral lobbies is so strong!). It’s an incredible thing to me: those “vetoes” are the best allied of Hamas, not forcing the Israeli government to change policy, not destroying the oppression which feeds the lines of Hamas! Will anybody ever think that the missiles on Gaza have been, somehow, triggered on the other side of the Earth?

Praising Italy for its position about Syria

A-Sad-view-Syrian-Civil-War-e1351269157746In some occasions in the past I’ve blamed the Italian political system for the many flaws affecting its life but this time I am very happy to praise the Italian position about the Syrian problem: when France, UK and even USA looked like being ready for a direct military intervention in the civil war plaguing that country, Italy tried to cool tempers and to suggest a line of moderation and of possible intervention only under the auspices of the United Nations and this was, in my opinion, absolutely right for at least three main reasons.

First of all, I suppose many of us will agree about the fact that war is never an answer to any international problem and much more in this case. I’d like to try to explain this in very plain terms. It’s obvious that the whole civil world condemns the use of nervine gas by Assad, in general terms and against civilians in particular: it’s a cruel, savage act provoked only by the terror of the president/dictator to loose the power inherited by his father Hafez who, in turn, was for sure not famous for his democratic and peaceful methods of government. This is a point and it is surely undeniable that Bashar Al-Assad deserves the hardest judgment and punishment for his war crimes. Yes, but we are speaking about a judgment and punishment by an international court of justice, not by a bunch of states charged by none to rise to the role of policemen of the world and violently intervening in a country with their supposedly (while the experiences of the past proved the opposite) “intelligent” bombings, only causing other carnages among the population. What would this solve? Would this take peace to the Middle Eastern area? Or, rather, would it increase the spiral of violence shaking those lands? If I had to bet, I would bet on the second result.

And here we come to the second point for which, in my opinion, any military intervention in Syria would be absolutely crazy. I spent quite a long time of my life studying the Arab countries and writing about them and one of the key elements I understood is that the Arab concept of government is really different from ours and this not surprisingly in the light of the different history they had. Democracy, the way we mean it, is a Western concept elaborated by the Western states heir of the French revolution and of a process leading to that elaboration. The Arab mentality, on the contrary, is a product of the Caliphate and of its history: the history of a man invested of a sort of divine power to lead a nation. What is questionable, in this picture, is the investiture of this or that man by the divine power, not the process itself. This is a fundamental concept to absorb if we really want to understand all the movements of the so-called “Arab spring”: the whole history of the Arab world is an history of fighting and wars to affirm the divine investiture of this or that candidate and all the events taking place in the Middle-East in these last years make no exception. Let’s have a look to what happened wherever the “Arab revolutions” took place. On one side you have a dictator, a new caliph almost fanatically beloved by a part of the population, normally promoting a supposed modernization of the state (let’s not forget that, after the end of the Caliphate, the feeling of backwardness in respect to the Western states is one of the most diffused feelings in the Arab world) but never clashing against a deeply religious mentality diffused among the population (think, in example, about what was written in the “Green Book” by Mu’ammar Al Qaddafi). On the other side you have Salafi or Wa’habi groups, which means groups inspired by the most traditional and conservative (and, according to many Islamic scholars, such as the ones of Al-Azhar, wrong) interpretation of Islam, subsidized or inspired by the ultra-dictatorial Saudi Arabian government and life-style, trying to impose a sort of coming back to the foundations of Islam and considering any modernization as the cause of the decadence of the Arab society. The entire game is played on this contraposition in which there is no room (but for some exceptions of minority groups) for Western style democracy: whoever writes and speaks about a “struggle for freedom and democracy” in the Arab fights simply cheats the audience. Can’t our democratic style of government (assuming that we are living in democracies and not in plutocracies) be exported to Arab countries? Of course yes: many of my Arab friends are the living proof that democracy, as any other concept in the world, can be exported everywhere! But, also given the not so sure fact that Arabs really would like to accept a Western concept, a Western life-style, etc. (would you accept to live with a different life-style coming from a different culture? Probably no and why should it be different for other cultures? Only as our mentality is, in our minds, better than theirs?), also given this, well, the exportation of an idea, of a mentality is very different from the imposition of an idea or of a mentality, more so if this imposition is carried on with “intelligent bombings”: Iraq and Afghanistan are a quite clear example in this sense.

And this is even more true, and we come to the third point, in the case of Arab countries. There is a concept, a typically Arab concept we must keep into account: the concept of “Ummah”. What is it? In itself, in Arabic, this word simply means “community” and it refers to all the Muslim people with a common ideology and culture. “Ummah” is also used in this sense by Allah in the Quran referring to Muslims and, finally, it denotes the unity of all people submitted to God all over the world. The obvious corollary of the concept is that, for the majority of the Arabs in the world, to attack a part of the “Ummah” means to attack the whole of the “Ummah”. And believe me: whichever side you decide to support, a military intervention in the “Dar al-Islam” (“Land of Islam”) by a non-Islamic state or groups of states, is, in the Arab vision, an attack to the “Ummah”, to its integrity, to its autonomy and independence, with all the domino consequences this can provoke. Therefore, if any intervention, always allowed by international organizations and Islamic organizations, should forcedly take place in Syria, the only way to carry it on is through other Arab states, not surely by French, British or American troops and bombs. I’m glad that it appears that, under political pressure by other states (Italy included) these countries (France, UK, USA) are, perhaps, backtracking from a resolution whose consequences could be unimaginable and, in any case, negative for the World peace and for the life of the common people of the involved areas but what I really can’t understand is how these governments, with all their political analysts, can’t see such evident things like the ones I mentioned. Honestly I can’t help thinking that some economic interests beyond the “call to principles” stand behind the risk of a new contraposition between Western countries and Arab world (Bush and the Iraqi oil-pipes could teach something to us) but I really pray with all my strength that, at least just for once,  economic interests may give way to common sense and humanity… at least just for once…