Israel is one of those utterly insoluble human problems created by politicians with an agenda at a particular time which then creates strife and misery for generations upon generations afterward. Not unlike Northern Ireland.
On the one hand, the Jews ought to have a land of their own, after so many centuries dispersed (and still, amazingly, retaining a uniform cultural identity!) and especially after their ordeals during the first half of last century. On the other hand, the Palestinians also ought to have a land of their own, and the tragic thing is that they did up until fifty years ago. After the events of the last fifty years, and having dispensed with the anger and recriminations on both sides, the insoluble question remains, how can one recognise the rights of the one group without impinging on those of the other?
I have a former student with whom I have maintained touch for a while now (we take tea together- he practices English and I practice Arabic) for whom these are burning questions. He is from Jordan but his family originally lived in Jerusalem, and had for as far back as they could trace their family (several generations, so at least a century or more) until they were expelled after the 1967 war. Curious, I asked him once what he thought about the issue of Israel and what should be done, given his family's own experience. He thought for a moment and then told me that he can't see why they can't live together in one sovereign state with a party system, etc. although he admitted the Israelis would never go for that because, in that scenario, they wouldn't have a political majority, hence their political autonomy (the whole point of having a land of their own) would be compromised.
I become increasingly interested in these questions, and in what those touched by them think about it all, particularly since I will be spending some time in Egypt from next month, a country which has figured prominently in the whole debacle. Not so much because I have a vested interest (I have little sympathy with all those Leftist "Free Palestine" protestors, whose anti-imperial stance, I feel sure, obscures the endless ambiguities of the reality; nor, on the other hand, with those many Christians who see the state of Israel as some kind of fulfilled prophecy), but because behind the politics are human realities and human suffering on both sides, families and cultures and mutually exclusive histories and cultural narratives rudely and abruptly thrown into conflict with one another.
In that connection, while looking up some details about my upcoming trip to Egypt (specifically transport to monasteries in the Eastern Desert) I stumbled across this travel video by (apparently) an Israeli Jew posing as a British journalist. Of particular interest to me were the opinions of the man in the car at the beginning.
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