Reporting from Israel: Ran Bar-Yoshafat
There are many definitions for the word “peace”. One definition is a state or period of mutual concord between governments; a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity. Another definition is a state in which there is no war or fighting. (from Webster Online Dictionary)
I find it very interesting when people use the second definition, mainly with concern to Israel. There is a real chance for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which will come to fruition from both sitting together at the negotiation table, reaching an agreement of some sort. I believe the vast majority on both sides are talking about peace of this sort.
The latter definition, however, can be reached by other means. One of these means is the destruction of Israel and kicking all the Jews out of the land. That is also “peace” – right? Wrong! But this is exactly what some “peace” movements are trying to do. The best example is the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, who are calling to create boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. I wonder if ever in the history of men two sides stopped fighting because a third party demanded that a fourth party should not talk to one of the two parties that are fighting. Another example to this hypocrisy is the “Jewish Voice for Peace” organization. This organization claims somehow to recognize Israel’s right to exist, yet at the same time it calls openly for the world to divest against Israel. These “peace” activists can come in many shapes. Some even like to carry fire arm, knifes and iron bars. They like to use the word “peace” to poetically describe themselves as the victims. Some like to inject even more incitement into the region, by spreading lies about Israel, and using harsh and negative “sound bytes” like “apartheid”, presenting the situation in the Middle East as a simple black and white scenario, with Israel as the bad side.
Personally I think it is insulting to use the apartheid analogy. It’s not just harmful, but completely false and inaccurate, and does a real disservice to any person who suffered under real apartheid in South Africa, and an injustice to any person who suffers under real apartheid today in South Sudan, Darfur, etc. these are crimes which are, sadly enough, ignored by the world. One of the most important parts of this is the fact that all of Israeli governmental policy is almost always taken out of context. People with short memory do not remember the massive wave of terror Israel was facing between the years 2000 and 2005. People forget that the checkpoints, security fence, and other restrictions only started to exist because 30-40 terrorist would enter Israel every day, murdering and the most brutal ways thousands of Israeli civilians – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other minorities.
The sad thing is that this context is actually making it more difficult for the Israelis and the Palestinian to have a true dialogue. Furthermore, it is a disservice even more for the Palestinians than to the Israelis. Free Gaza? Great! Free Gaza… from HAMAS! A terrorist organization, that in the year 2006 has killed more Palestinian civilians in Gaza than the Israeli Defense forces during Operation Cast Lead — not to mention the violation of basic human rights like killing people who are Christians because of the fact they are Christians, gender segregation, forcing people to wear certain clothes, creating a Muslim criminal court system (which allows executing people for being gay, or just in general not following the Muslim laws), and not allowing freedom of press, assembly or religion. The saddest thing in my mind is that these “peace activists” are so caught up in their cause, that they have stopped noticing that they have become violent.
The only way to solve a conflict is with a dialogue. Not talking to one side, Israel or Israel supporters (which is what organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other representatives of the BDS movement are doing) is the opposite of peace. It is causing both sides to be more alienated from each other. So the next time that you talk about peace, please, think about the definition you would prefer using – an open dialogue to bring a period of mutual concord between governments, or a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity — and not just to eliminate one side.