Friday, October 8, 2010

My life as an Israel advocacy coach...

Someone I know posted this as their status on facebook,
An Israeli military court convicts two Israeli soldiers for using a Palestinian child as a human shield during an assault on Gaza in 2009.

is there truth to this article/finding? I am a little confused on how to defend Israel about this?

Jennifer Goldberg
Great question, Jennifer! In a sense, what is there to defend? Two soldiers did the wrong thing, which was against tzahal's rules. They were tried and convicted by a military court.

A country can't be expected to have no citizens or soldiers who break the rules. It should be judged by how it deals with it when it happens. When soldiers endanger a little boy who ends up safe, they are convicted and punished. When Palestinian terrorists kill civilians, the Palestinian authority names streets for them. That's the problem in a nutshell.

By the way, what other country handles cases like that so well. Can America boast the same record of swift judgement and punishment? Look at Abu graib, or better yet, my lai in Vietnam!

I see a story like this as very sad and tragic, but it does make me proud of israel and tzahal for maintaining their high moral standard.

Hope senior year is going well!
Thank you so much, this one girl keeps posting these anti-Israel links from BBC news and its just bothersome.
Here's an example from today's NYTimes: 
Members of Sgt. Calvin Gibbs’s unit in Afghanistan paint a picture of him as the ringleader of murders of Afghan civilians for sport and the intimidation of fellow soldiers to keep quiet.
That is very interesting, I don't want to bother you but this is the continuation of the post:

Rachel X
i completely understand israel's view on the subject. however, that does not mean i'm going to agree with it. i actually posted this story because i was impressed with the way they handled this one considering the way they have dealt with t...hese issues in the past. these soldiers did something horribly wrong and of course a country can't be expected to have perfect citizens. a military court would not be necessary if their soldiers behaved the way that they should. i'm glad they found the soldiers guilty, as one of israel's favorite criticism of palestine is that their civilians that fight back use children as shields (even though it's just as common for israel). israel handled this one well, as i said before, which is why i shared it. i'm not saying the u.s. always handles things well by any means. we handles things horribly on many occasions. but israel happens to handle many of their cases worse than the u.s. does. a great example is of the soldier who got a slap on the wrist for shooting a little girl 17 times, some shots in close range into her skull. i have some serious issues with the ethics of the israeli miliary and while i will voice my opinion when they do so, i will also put up stories like these when i'm actually impressed with their actions

Abdul X:
Impressive? Do we really set such low moral expectations for the IDF so that the one time they decide to confront ONE of the many acts of murder and corruption, we praise them? What about the numerous accounts of soldiers blindly murdering ...innocent children which have yet to be held accountable? What of the man who was shot dead by the IDF for jumping over the ILLEGAL border fence. Continued Home demolition? Expansion? Occupation? Democracy..? Please, more like totalitarian state based off military campaigns and bloodshed. More

Rachel X:
Abdul, as you already know, I agree with you. However, if someone is constantly doing something you disagree with and they finally do something right, I think it's better to let them know that you're happy with them. And sadly yes, considering what they've done in the past, we do have a low moral standard for them sadly. It's the precedent that they set for themselves. It's our only expectation.
I would recommend not basing one's opinion only on accusations on the internet. It is important to meet both Israelis and Arabs and get a real sense of what's going on.

The Arabs clearly need great improvement in their lives economically, politically and socially. And the faster the better. When you meet average Arabs, as we have, you see they are normal people with healthy hopes and dreams like anyone else. There is real suffering that needs to be alleviated. There is also a strong extremist element undermining that progress, and moderates from within must speak out to stop them.

When you meet Israelis, including soldiers, (as we have) you also see that they are warm, wonderful, normal people with healthy hopes and dreams. There are certainly extremists trying to undermine peace, and load powerful moderate voices in all aspects of Israeli life fighting against them.

Rather than blaming one side or the other, it will be more productive to encourage the voices of moderation on both sides. For example, the Palestinians need help getting their own Btselem type organization running to protest abuses from their leaders. And they need clergy who openly protest acts of violence against Israelis, like the kind you see in the following article.

Rabbis Aharon Lichtenstein and Shlomo Riskin among those that visit mosque; bring new copies of Koran to replace those that were burned.

There will always be extremists in every camp. Let's focus on the hard work being done by people of good will on both sides, and celebrate and encourage it. Let's not be anti-Israeli or Palestinian. Let's be pro-both. I think that's what Rachel is getting at in her last comment, and I commend her for that. 
she posted back with a lot of untrue history..

this is what it said,,i havent had the time to respond thought

you act as if i've never met an israeli before. trust me, i've met plenty and i have no problem with them. in fact, one of my best friends is israeli and i love her to death. however, just because there are israelis that are good people't mean that their government is good. there are plenty of iranian people who are good people, but that doesn't mean i like ahmadinejad.

there is one very important difference to see in this issue. israel is a country blessed with a strong military and loads of money (coming from themselves and other countries). they have a stable government recognized internationally. they have the backing of the strongest military in the world and receive billions a year from the united states. the palestinians on the other hand have no military. they are extremely poor, which as you know always leads to violence as it has in many other countries. they have two small areas of land so they are a completed divided nation physically. they appeal annually to the united nations to become a country and are rejected year after year. they do not have the support of the united states, which makes their situation very difficult. think about the situation of the palestinian people for a moment. they have no military and are up against the 6th most powerful military in the world (which has the backing of the #1 military). a country was built in the middle of their country without one thought of concern for their people. settlements are continually built on their land, causing even more poverty. yes, there are israelis that will speak out against their government's actions on the palestinians and i think that's wonderful. however, the israeli government itself won't even freeze construction of illegal settlements that contribute to so many issues in the peace process. while i don't agree with actions taken by hamas, i struggle to think to myself that i wouldn't support their actions if i were in the shoes of palestinians. they have no one else to back them, so who do you expect them to turn to? again, i'm not blaming every israeli soldier (if i was, i'd be blaming every citizen of israel), nor am i saying the palestinian leaders are without any kind of blame. however, i'm blaming the actions of the israeli government. two completely different things.

and yes, my point in posting this article was to focus on good will. however, just focusing on good will doesn't make the issue just go away. you do have to focus on the bad if you ever hope to fix anything. and i'm not anti-israeli. i think they have a corrupt government, which can be said of many many many countries around the world.



Its true that Israel is more powerful. That is what makes it so frustrating when every time Israel tries to offer a compromise they are rebuffed. With all of Israel's power, why is there a PA at all? If Israel want to crush the Palestinians, and is willing to commit war crimes to do it, why are there millions of Palestinians living there lives? When you visit their towns in the West Bank, you see poverty - true. But you also see schools, people going to work, stores and restaurants, etc. They have police armed with weapons provided by Israelis, use Israeli health care, and go to Universities built under Israeli rule. They have no state and continue to be occupied in the West bank because when they were offered 97% of it in 2000, they rejected the offer.

By the way, Hamas operates out of Gaza, which is not occupied. Hamas should be building factories and infrastructure, not weapon bunkers. Their goal is not only to liberate Palestinians, but to destroy Israel. I have sympathy for the former, not the latter.

The Palestinians need to recognize that they will live in a state next to a Jewish state, and accept that. It will be in the West Bank and Gaza. The two state solution was voted for by the UN in 1947, and nobody has found a better plan yet. Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, and has offered withdrawal from the West Bank. (with land exchanged)

The Israeli government is certainly not blameless. All governments will do things wrong. But the Israeli government is trying to find a solution with a group that won't recognize its right to be a Jewish state, (Fatah) which can at any time lose control of the Palestinian people to another group that beat them in a free election and demand the complete destruction of Israel. (Hamas)

And imagine if the Palestinians only used peaceful protest. Wouldn't their cause be much further? Israel would have no excuses and the international pressure on it would be unbearable.

Criticizing Israel is right and good. Blame is a strong word, and I would suggest that it clouds the difficult spot they are in. Would another democracy do as well in their position? Would another democracy allow 1 million arabs to be citizens of their state, be members of Parliament and openly criticize the state itself?

Israelis are terrified to offer peace. After the offer in 2000 there was no Palestinian counter offer or negotiation, just the second intifada that left hundreds of dead Israelis. They withdrew from Gaza, and where hit by thousands of rockets. The government has to convince them that this time it will be different, and genuine peace talks will lead to genuine peace. This will not be easy. Is the Israeli government perfect? Far from it. Are they in a tough position with a seemingly insurmountable challenge?

There is enough blame to go around. I can blame the Palestinians for rejecting compromise and embracing terror. You can blame Israel for the occupation. And we are right where we started.

From the tone of Rachel's writing, she seems like an impressive person. She is respectful, insightful, passionate and polite. That is the makings of a great political conversation. And I think her looking at the issue from the perspective of Palestinians is the right thing to do. She also looks at it from the perspective of average Israelis, which is beyond great. Its rare to find someone willing to look at both sides like that.

Part of understanding the issue is to also look at the perspectives of both governments. 

No comments: