In this intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, I have heard both sides claim the “other” doesn’t exist.
In Gaza, more than one Palestinian has told me that Israel doesn’t exist and they refuse to acknowledge Israel’s existence.
On Facebook, I have read comments by some Israelis and Americans that Palestinians do not exist. Wasn’t there an American Congressman last year who announced there are no Palestinians?
I suspect both “WISH” the other didn’t exist and then they could create the reality they dream of.
The reality, however, is that both exist —- like the sun and the moon —- there is no denying the fact that there is a State of Israel today. Nearly 8 million people live in Israel. And the indigenous people who lived here peacefully before the creation of the State of Israel in 1947 are the Palestinians.
There are over 11.6 million Palestinians in the world today, of which 4.4 million live in the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza. By 2020, if current birth rates continue there will be more Palestinians living in historical Palestine than Jews, hence the “demographic threat” that some Israeli officials worry about.
I am not passing judgment on the legal rights of either side, and I’m certainly not arguing that there is equality between the “occupier” and the “occupied.” I’m noting a simple, undeniable fact, that the State of Israel exists today, and there are millions of Palestinians living on this land too. Am I’m urging everyone on both sides to take their “blinders” off.
Some examples of this deliberate blindness which make future peace very difficult, if not impossible, include:
- Refusing to teach children about the “other” people. Israeli textbooks ignore the history of the Palestinians and the Nakba. The Palestinian textbooks ignore Israel and the Holocaust.
- U.S. and Israeli policy ignores the legitimate election of Hamas, as if they don’t exist, and they refuse to even talk with Hamas, preferring to carry out targeted assassinations instead.
- Building a very high “security” wall so that Israeli citizens don’t even see the conditions and life on the other side.
- Some Palestinians claim that the State of Israel doesn’t exist (legal or otherwise) despite the fact that the vast majority of nations on this planet recognize the State of Israel.
- Even some Arabs claim that Palestinians do not exist.
People can continue with their wishful thinking and this nonsense, or they can recognize the reality that exists today. The Earth is not flat, and wearing blinders will not change the facts. The first step towards a future for everyone is acknowledging that everyone exists, in my humble opinion.