People are passionate about their land, their roots, their heritage. We don't get the depth of that here in the states, where none of us have been natives for more than a half dozen generations. In the cradle of civilization, ties to the land go back hundreds, even thousands of years. Except for the Jewish people, formerly the Hebrews, who have been ousted, enslaved, and banished again throughout history.
Enter the modern world and the support of the powerful USA. Jewish people laid claim to their ancient land, and with international backing, established the current country of Israel. It's not exactly the biblical Israel, but it's land they can connect to and call their own, with a whole lot more history of their culture and ethnicity than we Americans have.
Unfortunately, the new Israelis aren't happy with the boundaries set by the international community. They believe they're entitled to more land that is currently held by Palestine. Ah, this is where we always get into trouble, isn't it -- entitlement. So with a self-righteous fervor, Israel is occupying parts of Palestine, claiming that ancient cultural rights should trump modern political borders. They have a point, but it's still illegal.
Legality is another issue we seem to butt up against when we're not getting what we want, or what we believe to be right. If law interferes with our rights, shouldn't it be challenged? Isn't that what civil disobedience is all about? Well, yes, except when we get violent. And it's nearly impossible to claim land that someone else is living on without getting violent. So Israel forcibly claims land that, by law, belongs to Palestine, and forcibly fights off any Palestinians who try to live or work on that land.
This image shows the gradual consumption of Palestine territory by Israel. The international community recognizes the left image as the current legal boundaries of both countries. The right image shows current Israeli occupation and the dwindling land and resources reserved for the Palestinian people.
This is all fine and dandy on a theoretical level, where countries are personified and cold facts have no human face. But there are human faces, thousands of them, suffering in this conflict over land. People of Palestine who have owned land for centuries are being driven off it. People of Israel are being attacked by Palestinians who just want their land back. Palestinians are being bombed by Israelis, who genuinely believe they are on the side of righteousness.
America has a responsibility here. We supported the formation of Israel, agreed to its national borders, and continue to provide constant financial and political support for the country's right to exist. We never agreed to support Israel in claiming territory that belongs to Palestine, at least not that I'm aware of. Why do we allow this illegal occupation to continue? We have a powerful influence over Israel, and I believe that if the U.S. were to take a stand for the agreed-upon borders of Israel, a lot of lives, homes, farms, businesses, and money could be saved all around. Palestine isn't our enemy, but in backing Israel, we have taken sides with a team that isn't playing by the rules.
We, the people, have more power than we think. Every communication with our elected representatives counts as the voice of dozens of citizens, because so few people write. I encourage you to write to your federal representatives about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any other injustice you see being perpetrated by the United States. We are a country based on liberty and justice for all, but it doesn't come just because we say so. We have to continue to work for justice every day, and have faith that with justice, peace will follow.