I am really enjoying my new political “friends” in the MWP. It is one of the only “places” where a wide range of opinions on any given political topic are discussed in respectful discourse. It’s rather astonishing, like waking up on a different planet with nearly everyone taking what they want and leaving the rest.
I recently had the opportunity to join the conversation on a MWP dissuasion board about the recent developments in Gaza that began when a party member posted a protest to extended US government aid to Israel for military purposes. There were responses to it that had the general flavor of being either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, with the majority of those favoring Israel. The picture that I tried to paint with my response is that the situation that has been bubbling and percolating since even before 1967 isn’t something that can be boiled down to a black or white issue, and I posted a news story about caches of rockets being found in schools set up by the UN as means to try to get people to think about the society in Gaza.
It is a rather futile exercise to make an attempt to personalize the goings on there because a society which would allow rockets to be stored where they send their kids to be educated is entirely foreign to any preconceptions about motivations. Even in a peaceful place such as my neighborhood, I would be absolutely livid to find military munitions stored at a school where I send my child. The fact that Gaza is under constant threat of airstrikes that could blow the buildings with such munitions stores to kingdom come at any moment wouldn’t even enter into my calculations before I’d blow my top. And I am pretty sure that I am not alone. And while I am positive that this cultural difference, if that is what it can be called, doesn’t amount to any kind of rationale for military action against it, I am deeply perplexed about the condition and longevity of a society that prioritizes animosity toward its neighbor above the welfare of its children.
Later, I got into a discussion about this topic with my husband and he mentioned the disagreements about the settlements. He made a blanket statements to the effect that Israel has been confiscating land and building the settlements on that land, and I objected to them because the entire topic has been highly politicized and neither he nor I knew whether that was true. I looked at the Wiki page for the West Bank settlements to see if there was any information about the legal basis for them. It was some help, but the body of it appears to be veiled bias and not entirely coherent.
The gist of the question about the settlements from the Wiki page are:
- The Israelis developed land that had been claimed for military purposes in 1967
- Some of the newer expansions of settlements that were established on the outskirts of Arab neighborhoods displaced some Arabs. It doesn’t say whether the Arabs were paid for the land, though it does say the Israeli claims they were.
- In East Jerusalem, some settlements were built on Arab communal land abandoned during the 1967 war, land for which it clearly states that there was no legal ownership documentation, then it accuses Israel of theft.
I can’t say that I know much more than I did before I read it, but UN article 49c leaves the impression that territory gained in defensive military action does not have to be returned. There are some factors that add considerably to the complexity of the situation because while the territory does not have to be returned, the Geneva Convention IV says that an occupying force cannot deport its population to the territory, nor can it annex it; meaning that despite the legal dispute over the settlements, Palestinians cannot either rule themselves, nor can they be subject to Israeli law or participate in the Israeli political system. They are in a state of legal and jurisdictional purgatory that consists of the only allowable system which is martial law.
Thus my opinion is, just from the little bit I have read, that the Palestinian plight is the result of combined incoherence between UN charter documents and other treaties that does not allow for jurisdictional clarity, that gives rise to claims of segregation and being treated differently than everyone else, as there is no legal foundation by which to protect property rights and resolve disputes among civil parties or between individuals and government – there simply is no government other than by brute force.
I understand why they are rather torqued regarding their predicament. That is not a condition under which I would want to live and I would resist it. But that is not to say I believe that firing rockets into neighborhoods from the territory that has been allowed to be governed by the Palestinians is the way to resolve it. And while I don’t like the idea of recent actions in Gaza by the Israeli military, they have both a legal and moral basis to pacify the area if it is required.