Israel/Palestine/Israel

This is the second segment in a continuing dialogue between an Israeli (Mike) and an American (Bill) — it is an ongoing email conversation, dialogue text is copied verbatim. The first segment appeared here as Palestine/Israel/Palestine.

July 29, 2017 (Mike to Bill)

Was talking to my wife this morning on what I was trying to explain and her comment was that it is impossible to have a dialogue with people that believe they are victims. In our neck of the woods that would definitely mean what children are taught in kindergarten and school. Then I suppose to compound this we have families marrying first cousins to keep family control of their wealth. This has indeed caused some deterioration in IQ and introduced birth defects that are not helpful specially when no pre-natal screening is available. Or as in the case of America religion doesn’t allow veterans to get pain relief by using marijuana extracts that are specially formulated for pain without the buzz. In Israel they are very successful at isolating parts of hemp and marijuana to deal with many health problems that “normal” medicine cannot help. Actually talking to you has created a sort of introspection that wasn’t around before.

If you can’t solve problems what are you supposed to do? Maybe there is a higher power and karma was created to interact on a planet that was like the locked room game. Maybe we are looking at things the wrong way?

Sorry for all the posts but it is like a ball of wool unravelling before your eyes.

Sunday in Israel is a normal day so enjoy yours

July 30, 2017 (Bill to Mike)

I have indeed followed coverage on Sergeant Azaria. Hebron is a hell on Earth, particularly for the Palestinians who still live there. I watched a John Pilger documentary “Palestine is still the issue” on this town, filmed about a generation ago now. Shuhada Street is fenced right up against Palestinian homes. Looking through caged windows they get to see settlers, soldiers and holy land tourists glaring, shouting, tossing things, punching into doorways. Surreally dystopian. Shuhada was Hebron’s main street.

I listen for mention of Palestine on a range of news media, but virtually nothing outside official government channels is reported. I listen to any number of pitches for holy land tours. How can any of them not mention a word about the Apartheid Wall. The independent street artist Banksy does a good job though. There is that.
Imagine being evicted from you house in the Palestine of 1948, then being occupied where you sought refuge in 1967, then to have your house in the occupied territories rehabbed or razed by a tsunami of settlers. How about children looking through a fence to see settler children playing in a yard they once played in, to read “Gas all Arabs” graffiti everywhere, having your bedroom door broken down at 2:00 in the morning by IDF soldiers and then brought in for questioning, wetting your pants in the process.
Despite all that humiliation, their population will soon outnumber non-Palestinians in what was formerly a colony of the British Empire. Despite regular bombing, the population density in Gaza only increases. There are no places to hide and invoking the all-explaining five letters H A M A S does not justify it. Would you not resist?
Here’s my question for a Sunday — What’s the truth on white-phosphorous bombs on Gaza?
But I still wish you, and all you hold dear, the very best in these rapidly approaching days of August, be they august or not.
July 30, 2017 (Mike to Bill):

Hi Bill – there is some truth in what you say but a bit one-sided. I used to know Hebron pretty well and if you are interested let me tell you about my monthly stints in Hebron when I happened to be there. My recollections are sharp but the when is a bit muddled. 
In 1929 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre I have an interesting story. The first time I was in Hebron we were encamped on a hill near Hebron. We were waiting to go out on patrol – the weather was amazingly good. One of the soldiers told us that his grand-father and grand-mother was one of the few Jews to manage to escape the massacre. Fast forward to 1967 and one day a convoy of cars from the West Bank pulled up outside his parent’s house on aSaturday morning when the whole family was at home. One of the Arab guys introduced himself and explained that his grand-father had rented out their home the left in Hebron and brought him the rent in Jordanian Dinars. Seems his grand-parents helped the soldier’s family to escape. Some history (I didn’t know a lot written here) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebron in Israel the land deeds are kept in the Tabu office – Tabu is a Turkish word and written is who owned what and when. For example Tel-Romeda next to the very large Jewish cemetery. One of the most intelligent people I loved to have coffee with actually two – one was a rabbi that lived in a caravan home there as the land was owned by Jews and his next door neighbour a very smart guy that owned a shoe shop in town. The rabbi was murdered but the other guy – his family owned the Jewish cemetery and often we would sit on the wal drinking coffee and we would joke about what is he supposed to do with the land as the 99 year lease had expired a long time ago. At my time the mayor of Hebron Jabori – had a grand-child that converted to Judaism and married a French woman (arranged) in Jerusalem. He later became quite a famous rabbi. There were Israelis that married Arab women and had to live in Israel as they could have been in danger. Lots of Arab men married Jewish women. Love is love.

In Tel-Aviv you cannot tell who is who anymore. Back to Hebron. I was once the sergeant in charge of the Patriarch’s tomb. Of course prayers was a problem with different rooms at different times and being a bit naïve I started to become blonde. Early morning prayers were conducted with the Arabs in the big hall and the Jews were allowed to use a small room with a connecting door to the big room until 7am. Of course both sides drove me crazy by opening the door before7am and anything else they could do to make my life miserable. They were all like kids. So one morning I visited the local hardware store and bought a hasp and staple plus medium sized lock and a few screws and a screw driver. That night I installed the hardware and waited for the morning. The lock was by the way  on the Arab side because there was more light there. Next morning both sides of the door started talking to each other and complained about me to the military governor no less. He came over and I couldn’t believe my eyes the Arabs and the Jews were kneeling on the floor with little brushes and were collecting the wood dust (I couldn’t see any) from the floor. So when they decided they had it all I had to remove the hardware and with prayers in bot Arabic and Hebrew these crazy people so called replaced the dust with some glue. I was severely reprimanded for destroying the door and they all grudgingly agreed to drop this serious – whatever it was. Now forgive me for telling you in my mind the people there deserve each other and would be heart-broken if either side upped and left. Another thing when I was street patrol sometimes young girls would invite us to tea (not coffee) and they would sit inside the garden gate and we sat on the pavement. That is how I prefer to remember Hebron not the throwing Molotov cocktails at our jeeps nor some of the Jews that thought they owned the place. But Bill there is not only one side to this story. Once there was no wall and my daughter’s bus was blown up twice (no 16 in Jerusalem) both times she walked instead. How many time times I had to go and look for my daughter at the hospital as I didn’t know she walked home. Israel specially asked the Jordan king to stay out of the war – but he shelled Jerusalem. Anyway in 1948 he invaded the place.

So much more but I think I may have lost you J

The following response originally appeared in a comment thread here.

August 3, 2017 (Bill to Mike):

…your firsthand personal experience in Hebron is of great interest to me and I look forward to hearing more. To every extent possible I try to follow this maxim: listen to “the other” before formulating a response, mull the other’s words before responding, then speak truth as you know it. I do not often succeed, but the maxim is still wise.
In my opinion, Wikipedia is better at topics that are not “hot button” ones, ones that do not serve agendas. Here is a single example:

type in “Hasbara” and you are not taken to a page titled “Hasbara.” Rather, you are taken to a page titled “Public diplomacy of Israel.” Before that it was “Public diplomacy in Israel.” Before that it was “Public diplomacy — Israel.” Why does it not take you to a page titled “Hasbara”?

Shalom,
Bill

This is a developing dialogue, additional conversations will appear in a future post.

Thanks for reading.

 

where.is.palestine
From a Holy Land Tour Brochure (circa 2015).

Palestine/Israel/Palestine

The events of May 1948 in Palestine have sparked trillions of conversations that have droned on in parallel for seventy years now. You may find a few thousand meaningful uncommon conversations post Nakba (the Catastrophe). They are exceedingly rare. Most “conversations” parrot propaganda mills (hasbara in Hebrew).  Below are concerns of an individual Israeli citizen. I have not redacted a single word.

Bill hi, I would suggest you come and visit Palestine – you know Palestine was Israel before 1948. If you come I would be only too happy to offer you coffee and you can tell me what you think about Israel and answer any of your questions if I can.

Even though I live here and spent hundreds of hours at lectures my memory unfortunately is not what it used to be as I am now 76. I live in Netanya and would be only too pleased to help you find answers from history lecturers to any questions you may have. My opinion on Israel seems a bit different to yours but I am sure we could have interesting chats.

I must tell you I am fascinated with BDS and how so many people really do have a problem with facts here and there but I always believe you have to visit a country and speak with the locals so as to make up your own mind.

I keep hearing from members that there is a Genocide in Israel and the disputed territories yet their own statistics show this to not be true.

How many members know that an Israeli president was sentenced to jail by an Arab judge. That Arabs account for 20% of the population and that is their representation at Universities and hospitals where they are professors and famous surgeons.

Please don’t mix up Israel and politicians – I would swap Bibi for Trump in a heartbeat. I think we should keep our correspondence private as I really do not want to cause anyone any grief.
Looking forward to your reply
Mike Altman, Netanya Israel

Hello Michael, Thank you so much for the very kind comments, they are gratefully received. In the two years I’ve been writing this blog, yours is the very first remark from an Israeli perspective — a succinct and thoughtful set of arguments as well. I certainly respect your wishes to maintain an off-blog conversation; however, I would also like to share your views with my audience. Please know that I am quite willing to make your comment visible — again, I understand your concern.
Here is one proposal: I am eager to write a post that addresses your points and to respond on each concern you express. An open conversation between viewpoints is sorely lacking, but desperately needed.

Droning on in parallel from differently selected events, statistics and perspectives proceeds without hope of resolution, and indefinitely.

I have been following the “conflict” for many decades now. I was born eight months before the events of 1948, so it is possible for me to relate each event. For example, I was a student in Germany during the Munich Olympics of 1972. So I was 25 years old and so was Israel/Palestine Palestine/Israel.

Perhaps a point-by-point response that does not reveal your name or location might be a worthy compromise between private and open dialog.
It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Michael. I look forward to learning from you 🙂

I try and reply to posts immediately but your reply was different to what I somehow expected. I do not at all mind our conversation being viewed online I incorrectly assumed it would be you that would rather have an offline chat.

Since I am blessed/cursed with a very over active imagination I manage to see things from multiple angles and standpoints. When I think of BDS my mind is flooded with so many questions of why does one well funded organization with ardent followers choose a basically one sided view of just one of the many obviously urgent problems on our planet. Reading articles I do understand that people are writing from their viewpoint but like I am colour blind I expect people to try and see what is there but maybe not visible to them. The thing about being colour blind is that the mind can force oneself to see the missing things if you think they should or could be there.

I have a childhood friend that adamantly believes that we should not intervene – like invading Iraq – we are obliged to do nothing and wait for evolution to choose a path for everyone. Maybe Obama also believed in doing nothing and the result was half a million people killed more wounded and displaced causing hardship and misery for millions more. Never mind the other millions migrating to Europe from Africa to find a better and safer life for them and their children.

The reason I mention this is because with all this abject misery surrounding us I would think that such a well-funded and run organization would not be focusing on just one problem amongst all others. I have always been able to analyse what I see and read and imagine the many directions things could take and how effective they could be. In my humble opinion I cannot see why BDS could succeed as it has already “solved” this complex problem without understanding too much about it.

My father would not have won many “father” awards but he was smart and instilled in me to never judge anyone until I have walked in their shoes. As an example, the last time I visited the Western wall myself and everyone else including tourists passed through metal detectors – like we do at airports today – thank goodness. After arms were taken onto the Temple Mount and used to kill two policeman.

The head of the police promised their families who happened to be Druse that they would take steps so it would not happen again. Maybe even to foreign visitors on this holy site. The police themselves decided to install metal detectors at the entrances and this is what caused the current serious problem. People prayed in the streets instead as they would not pass through the machines and dispersed after prayers with very little problems but in some parts of town young people rioted and people were injured and killed.
Please forgive the over long post but there is so much to say.
May you all have a very good week, Mike

Hello Michael, Thank you for your kind comments on my About page. Dialogues on this topic are as desperately needed as they are rare, and misinformation is the coin of the realm. I think it’s a good sign that both of us responded with consideration for the privacy of each. Would you mind if I wrote a new posting that contains your comments without redaction on my part? In other words, a genuine open and civil dialogue.

Shalom,
 
Bill

I have no problem whatsoever – in fact would welcome it.

A very strange time of year here as more than 4 million Israelis leave to spend a greener cooler holiday all over the world. Amazing when there are only 5,600,000 Danes in Denmark.

 Have a good week Bill

Mike

 

You are a kind soul, Michael. Our exchange already contains enough grist for the mill to inspire quite a few conversations. Actually, that observation on climate, travel and Denmark is sufficient for an entire post. 🙂

A superb week to you, Michael.

🙂 an interesting thought – if we can get the mill to spin faster it could take off – imagine that, flying windmills. Something to think about while trying to sleep.

Thanks for reading.