This is quite a difficult thing to write, and to reckon with within myself. If you don’t already know, in my last house I hung a Palestinian flag. I also hung an Israeli peace flag.
|Please excuse my partner being stuck in an exercise hoop, and look past him to my flags.|
The conflict has always been close to my heart. I have Palestinian heritage on one side, including Mizrahi Jews of the Old Yishuv. People are always telling my sister and I how pale we are and that it doesn’t show. I know. But that’s not the point.
I only met my grandmother once when I was a baby, she is now deceased. As far as I know, the rest of the Arab connections to our family died in Operation Cast Lead in 2008.
I have never supported Hamas and neither have any of my family. They were petrified by Hamas. It was horrible to be trapped in place and at risk of imprecise bombs meant for someone else. But Hamas were always monsters to their own people. They deliberately fired rockets at Israel from the front of civilian homes, knowing that the retaliation strikes would hit these residential houses and not actual Hamas sites. Palestinians who publicly opposed rocket firing or tried to physically intervene, were shot, including children.
I was raised with a very anti-Israeli viewpoint. I believed in it even until my late teens, and the heartbreaking events of Cast Lead did not help. But one day I grew up. I suddenly realised that Israelis were people just like Palestinian civilians. They just wanted to live out their lives and not be so afraid. I’ve learned a lot in that time, and Judaism has continued to call to me.
Zionism used to be a toxic concept for me. I came to realise how vital it is that Jews have a place in the world they will always be safe. History has shown, time and again, that they cannot rely on states headed by other faiths to keep them safe. It just doesn’t happen. I have not even formally converted to Judaism, and I have already experienced anti-Semitism, as well as noticed it increasing around me from people who don’t know what my beliefs are. People are starting to notice the racism behind the word “gyp” and so are replacing it with “Jew” in similar circumstances, e.g. “Don’t let them ‘Jew’ you.” These are the same people who think other forms of racism are wrong.
So I am a Zionist. I believe that there needs to be a Jewish state. As a Breton I know what it’s like to not have a homeland free of someone else’s control. It’s not good.
I don’t know what the solution to all of this is. In an ideal world, it would be something like State of Palisra or State of Canaan. But it’s not an ideal world. Both peoples have different needs and I’m beginning to doubt that it’s possible for everyone to live together. There are many Palestinians happy to live under Israeli citizenship and they certainly wouldn’t go back. But others don’t want to be Israeli.
Two states for two people may be the solution. But probably not an easy one. The West Bank would become Palestine. There remains the tricky circumstances of the settlers. Wrenching them out of their homes, as happened in Gaza, would not help anyone and would be a horrible ending. In fact I now think that if the Gaza pullout never happened, my Palestinian family may still be alive.
So the settlers would have to automatically become citizens of Palestine, and if they didn’t want that, I guess they’d move. But I don’t know.
Jerusalem is a sacred place for multiple religions and maybe avoiding conflict here requires it to become a separate third state of its own. This PDF of plans also seems good, but people who live there would be better at interpreting them.
Gaza should either become part of Egypt or Israel, instead of a disconnected Palestinian blob.
So, this is what my flags are like now:
Why did my Palestinian flag come down? Well, I don’t think I can support what it currently represents. It represents a Palestine that is not free, a Palestine held hostage by its own leaders and theocracy. I fear that an official Palestinian state may become much the same thing. I love my family, but a theocracy would have been no good to them, especially as non-Muslim Arabs.
Israel is a democracy with real human rights. It’s not perfect, but we need it.
I hope Palestine and its people can be on the same page as Israel one day. But for now it feels too painful to hang that flag and pretend that I like anything about the way Palestine is currently run.