Palestinian Neighbors

Jordan White Enterprises

March 29, 1999


Whenever I have expressed my support for the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, I have often heard the same refrain coming back: "We must not allow anything to happen that would threaten Israel."

Well, why are we so worried about Israel vs. the Palestinians?

Are they so equally matched, power-wise, that the Palestinians present a real threat to Israel’s security?

Don’t be ridiculous.

Israel is probably the biggest power in the Middle East. Certainly it has the most largest, most well-equipped armed force. Most experts agree that it is nuclear-equipped, as well.

Why is such a super-power so concerned with a group of people so unskilled with warfare, even terrorism, that they bungled even the takeover of an unarmed Italian cruise ship?

Israel could easily slaughter and scatter the Palestinians, probably in a matter of days, if they so chose, in much the same manner as the early Hebrews conquered the Philistines and the Canaanites.

The difference is that the early Hebrews clearly defined those groups as enemies, and, indeed, they certainly behaved like enemies. The situation was one of out-and-out war, with each side doing its best to take out the other. Sometimes the Canaanites or the Philistines would win a battle, sometimes the Hebrews. But it was real warfare, warfare with the express goal of liquidating the other's civilization.

The difference between then and now is simply this: the Palestinians are not seen by Israel as enemies to be slaughtered and utterly destroyed.

That is a good start.

Now, let's take this a step further.

Since Israel is unwilling to call the Palestinians enemies, how about calling them something else?

How about neighbor?

Neighbors don’t have to be friends. They just have to be willing to live side-by-side, respect one another’s rights and autonomy.

Often, neighbors find that they have more in common with one another than they originally thought, after they live next to each other for a while. They find themselves working together to make the neighborhood a better place for themselves and their children. They find themselves cooperating on projects to increase the quality of life in the neighborhood and to prevent crime, recognizing that if there is crime in the neighborhood, it is the criminals who need to be rounded up and punished, not other neighbors.

You can't have a situation where a group is not your enemy, yet you continue to wage an ineffectual war of attrition. All that does is weaken and perhaps destroy both groups. How about taking a course of action that builds up both?

The Palestinians have shown themselves over and over again to be tireless workers for peace and stability, have given time and energy to the peace process which has won them so little. They have said that their new state would be founded on democratic principles.

Well, Israel? How about it?

Do you want to be enemies of the Palestinians, or do you want to be neighbors?

Decide one way or the other. Stop playing games.

I sure hope you decide to be neighbors.