Palestinians would do well to listen to the recent statements by Bill Maher on his HBO TV program. As an avowed atheist he does not support Israel because “it is their land” as espoused in the Old Testament (which he presumably would consider a bullshit book written by people with an agenda). His opinions are therefore based on what he thinks are a rational understanding of the situation. He has a point that firing thousands of rockets willy-nilly into Israel that have no way of targeting non civilians must give the defending Israelis the right to fight back. Agreed. He also states that Jews have lived there for thousands of years. Also true. But lets not forget that there were people in the area before the Jews arrived, and there were people there during Roman times that were not Jewish AND more relevant, it is estimated that 1/3 of the Jewish population when Rome kicked out the Jews simply converted so they would not have to leave. Presumably those people now are what makes up the Palestinian population. That there was no actual Palestinian state in the past is basically irrelevant. So the “rights to the land” issue is at best highly confusing.
The point that Bill Maher misses is that the “left” comments we hear today that are critical of Israel are simply a realization that Israel is not that pure country of high ideals that the US has rightly blindly supported for decades. They can be just as shitty as the rest of us. As the Israeli press itself often makes a point of. AND that the Palestinians do have a point. If you treat people like shit – you will get shit. And it is pretty apparent that the Israeli Government has and does often treat the Palestinians like shit. That some or a lot of it is deserved is not the point. There are bad Palestinians just like there are bad Israelis, good and bad Americans etc etc.
Bill Maher’s comment that if you were a Texan and thousands of rockets were fired at you from Mexico wouldn’t you have a right to fight back is correct on the face of it. By the same token if you were being kicked out of your home to make room for what you consider an outsider wouldn’t you also have a right to fight back as well? That is actually how the recent fight between Israel and the Palestinians started. Arab family’s were being ethnic cleansed from the West Bank to make room for Israeli settlers. We can call Hamas a terrorist group, Bill Maher can site unfortunate realities of the politics of Gaza, Arabs can site unfortunate realities of Israelis, but at the end of the day there are no clear good guys and bad guys – just grey as usual.
What is clear is that the US has to be more even handed if there is ever going to be a resolution to the conflict (which I don’t see happening to be honest) – that is essentially what the “left” is arguing for. Blind support for Israel therefore is NOT a winning strategy for any of the parties long term, most of all the USA.