That Whole Palestine/Israel Thing

So, if you read this blog for timely information on living sustainably off the grid you’re probably wondering about this blog title. But the blog is about what goes on at Sunflower Farm and some of the time what goes on in my head, which can be a very scary thing. I was hesitant to write and publish this because it is a controversial issue, but then I thought, nope, this is what I’m thinking about so I’m putting it out there.

It involves a strange coincidence, which I find so common in my life and I believe has profound meaning, which I have yet to ascertain. Buying lottery tickets immediately after these coincidences has yet to pay off for me.

A few weeks ago Michelle was editing a book written by Yousef Bashir. Our neighbour is involved with the book process and asked Michelle to take a look at one of the drafts. Yousef is a young Palestinian and I had actually heard his story long before we began to work on his book. He was living in Gaza during the first intifada where Palestinians rebelled against the occupation of Palestinian land in Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli soldiers actually moved into Yousef’s house and occupied the upper two floors. Yousef’s father was quite an exceptional man and continued to preach a message of peace during this time.

When Yousef was 15 years old, an Israeli soldier shot him in the back as he walked towards a United Nations vehicle. He was unarmed and there seemed to be no explanation for the shooting. It began a long painful period of recovery for him in an Israeli hospital where he was amazed by how kind and compassionate the Jewish doctors and nurses were towards him, first saving his life and then rehabilitating him.

Once Michelle was finished with editing the book I grabbed the hard copy and started reading it. I was a couple of chapters in to it and then I happened to be watching TV one night and the History Channel was showing “Schindler’s List.” This is the Steven Spielberg 1993 movie about Oskar Schindler who saved more than a thousand Polish Jews by employing them in his factories.

And yes, it was my first viewing of this movie. It seems strange for a doomer like me, but I have a tendency to avoid some of these movies with bad outcomes. I think I finally saw “Titanic” about a decade after it came out, because, who wants to see a movie where you know how it ends …. spoiler alert …  THE SHIP SANK! I have seen some holocaust movies like “The Pianist.” Heck I even own a copy of “The Counterfeiters” which is about a group of Jews who stay alive in a concentration camp by counterfeiting Bank of England pound notes.

In “Schindler’s List” there is scene in which concentration camp commander Amon Goeth, played by Ralph Fiennes, perches on his patio that overlooks the camp and arbitrarily kills a Jewish inmate with a rifle. In fact there are a number of scenes depicting this deplorable act. I’m still traumatized by it. He is happy to shoot some Jews in the back.

After watching a movie like “Schindler’s List,” it’s easy to understand why Jews so fiercely defend the State of Israel. In Israel all citizens over the age of 18, including women, must serve three years in the military. After watching the movie, I get why.

I’m presuming “Schindler’s List” is shown in Israel and I’m presuming students probably even get to watch it in school. It would help explain why they’re about to get drafted. But here’s what I don’t get. How does an Israeli shoot an unarmed man in the back? What goes on in someone’s head to do that, especially with the Amon Goeth example of a behavior one should not emulate? Had he never seen the movie?

The Israeli Palestinian conflict is an unbelievably complex issue. Israel continues to build settlements on Palestinian lands where it shouldn’t. Many Palestinians refuse to recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist. This is a messy dispute that goes way, way back.

I have often quoted the great thinker Noam Chomksy in this blog and I think his perspectives on this conflict have greatly influenced mine.

As a Jew he has a unique perspective on this and I will go out on a limb and try and summarize his take on the conflict by saying that regardless of the progress made at Camp David, or with the Oslo Accord or any number of other negotiations, Israel isn’t serious about the problem. Or at least the government is not. I believe many average Israelis want to see a serious peace, but their elected representatives don’t seem to be listening.

And so we’re left with this mess where periodically frustrated Palestinians lob rockets into Israel and Israel responds with brutal military force.

In “Schindler’s List” there is a scene where Oscar Schindler moves into a lovely furnished apartment that the SS has just forced the Jewish inhabitants out of. They are forcibly moved to the Jewish ghetto and their fate largely sealed. So if I lived in Israel I’d kind of look questioningly at my state occupying land that we took by force.

So here’s my suggestion on how to solve the Israel/Palestine issue. First, randomly select 10 Jewish mothers and 10 Palestinian mothers who have not directly been affected by the violence …in other words, mothers who haven’t lost a child in the conflict. The committee should all be mothers because they have the most at stake in this conflict, since they went through the pain of giving birth to these children who are at risk from the violence. Remember that scene from “Saving Private Ryan” (another Spielberg movie) when the mother collapses when she learns that 3 of her 4 sons have been killed in the D-Day invasion? That’s why you have mothers negotiate the peace. Too many men just like to shoot guns and blow stuff up, so they have a vested interest in the status quo.

Next you get Yousef Bashir to moderate. Yes, he’s Palestinian but somehow even though he was shot, he doesn’t seem to hold a grudge and has made it his mission to talk about the need for peace in the Middle East. He’s a Palestinian who likes Jews.

Finally you give everyone a huge bowl of popcorn, because the darn movie is more than 3 hours long, and you have them all watch “Schindler’s List.” The Jewish mothers would be saying gee, “That’s not very nice when you force people out of their homes.” And the Palestinian mothers would be thinking, okay, this holocaust thing was horrific, so I understand Jewish people’s desire for a homeland. Then you don’t let them leave the meeting until they have come up with a workable solution. And when they do, everyone, on both sides, has to stick to it. Especially the men.

Don’t mock me. Every President since Carter has tried to sort out the mess to no avail. Something’s not working. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. President Obama, please read my suggestion and give this a shot.

So there you have it. Cam’s blog solves world peace. Next up, that climate change issue…

10 Responses to “That Whole Palestine/Israel Thing”

  • Perry Boulter:

    Isn’t it odd how deeply evil roots istself between many good people? Life is too precious for us to ignore. Peace to all our good brothers and sisters.

    We live on this world TOGETHER.

    May the simpliest thing bring peace to the world, because complexities just interfer.

  • Thanks for catching this error. You are right, of course, and I have edited the post.

  • John de Vries:

    Sure like the 20 mother’s idea, there are to many vested interest by men.
    The world (UN) must back our 20 mothers at all cast, let’s do it Mr. Obama, Please.

  • Stephanie:

    Thanks for writing about this. I really don’t watch the news much and get some of my news from CBC radio in the short spurts of time in my vehicle so, although I’m aware of an issue, I’m not that knowledgeable about the details. It just seems like an odd issue…like an ageing issue that won’t be let go. Appreciate your insights Cam.


    A slight confusion… paragraph 4, line 1…..did you mean a “Palestinian” soldier or “Isreali” soldier, shot Yousef in the back?
    Your idea for a solution is good, but alas until we all treat each other as human beings we will have a long , long way to go to peace in the world.

  • Marilyn:

    Israel is expanding, it wants more land. Nothing will stop them from this expansion phase of their existence. I look back on the European entry into North America and the persecution, demonizing and outright murder of millions of native people to accommodate the waves of Europeans leaving deplorable conditions brought about by religious and political upheaval.
    Humanity continues its rush to the cliff and all we can do is try to cherish our small part of the earth as best we can. Your idea is laudable but I would hope that all these loving mothers would be immune to government and corporate lobbying. Love what you are doing, growing food, although laborious does allow for those Thoreau musings.

  • Nir:

    Kitty can you clarify what you mean by “…BTW, all the rest of the conflict in the Middle East stems from the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict”?

  • Nir:

    Did you not write that Yousef was shot by a Palestinian?
    I believe that your article is well meant, and I also hope for a resolution. However the sketch above is so simplistic, and does not take into account how the Palestinian Authority or its precursor the Palestine Liberation Organization has consistantly run away from Statehood. Here is an article with a good overview for starters:

  • Sonny:

    Cam, good blog today but your comment “Palestinians lob rockets into Israel and Israel responds with brutal military force” sure sounds like the thousands of harmless little rockets that do no damage in no way warranted that bully’s level response. Both sides have done major damage to each.

  • Kitty Hegemann:

    Agreed and Agreed, Cam. This is my usual take of seemingly unsolvable problems. Oh, they can be solved, but somehow they never are. Follow the money. When you do, you’ll see who is profiting from the death and destruction that is the result of this conflict. And BTW, all the rest of the conflict in the Middle East stems from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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