Sunday, February 12, 2012

I think I am, therefore I am

There is a thread going around Facebook today commenting that, in a drop-down menu showing a list of countries, Facebook excludes Israel but includes Palestine. I've certainly encountered the conspicuous absence of Israel on lists such as this one, but I've never actually seen this combination. While the deletion of Israel, my current country of residence is indeed disturbing for many obvious reasons, I am no less disturbed by the commentary this post generated.
The theme? "Palestine does not exist!"
Says who?
If I'm not mistaken, Palestine in fact existed only a half a century ago. It was then, in the UN vote to partition, divided into Israel and Transjordan. Obviously the proponants of the "Palestine does not exist" campaign do not mean exactly that. In fact I believe they mean something far more disturbing; that a people does not have the right to self-determination.
Now, hold your horses. Let me say this clearly: no one has the right to ask ME to self-destruct on their way to selfhood. I am not going to give away my homeland, not going to compromise the security of my borders, not going to knowingly arm my enemies against me. I do not believe this is an "us" or "them" situation. You may say that's exactly what "they" believe. Well, maybe so. But that can not affect my core belief system.
At the very center of my existence as an Israeli Jew is this very act of self-determination. One may present a series of proofs for Israel's right to exist, including Biblical ownership, the age-old right of conquer, political consensus, blah blah blah. Ultimately what makes me Israeli is my decision to be one. As a Jew, it's apparently my birthright. Says who? Says me. My people carry with us a narrative describing our arrival to and settlement of this Land. We've been banished, we've returned, a few times over. We have not always had a sovereign government. We have not always had a population majority. We have not always had a foothold. And yet, the longing to return has never budged from our liturgy, the soundtrack of our historical and cultural narrative.
So, when another people, albeit living not-so-peacefully beside me have a similar narrative, who are we to deny it? They can call themselves whatever they like. They can call their land whatever they want to. They can write their own narrative on their way to self-determination. The only issue that concerns me at all is that NONE OF THIS CAN BE AT MY EXPENSE. And this is where Facebook and I have a problem. "Israel" and "Palestine" should BOTH be on the list. The Palestinian narrative can not include my destruction, just as my narrative can not be predicated on denying another's right to self-determination. I know how I feel when I see "Israel" deleted from the map or excluded from a list of countries. Anyone who advocates for that exact behavior toward another people can only have one name: hypocrite.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written Sara!!!! Way to go! Please write more!