Israel’s Borders

No other issue I can think of has been so conflicted for me. I’m Jewish, and I grew up with the tales of our history from the beginning. These included modern history like of course the Holocaust, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War etc. But another one that I remember well is the tale of Abraham and his father Terah, and the smashing of the idols, the moment that these ancestors stopped being whatever it was they were before, and became something else in ideology. The other thing about that point in our history that sticks out at me is the existence of the two brothers, Isaac and Ishmael. Whatever their sibling rivalry, they were brothers, and one thing we learned about that both brotherly family trees seem to believe, is that Jewish folks are descended from Isaac, and Arab folks are descended from Ishmael. I’m not a geneticist, nor do I document kinship, but I have no reason to assume otherwise, since that assumption came from somewhere real, linguistically, culturally, and genetically according to studies.

So this leaves me with an interesting quandary when I hear about the state of Israel and its evolving future. On the one hand, I feel very emotional about our ancient connection to a land in which we really became defined as a kingdom, as a unified group of people rather than a group of affiliated tribes.  For whatever reason, our ancestors have been through so much and fought so hard to maintain that ancestral link, and it does deserve some honoring.

On the other hand, we also have that fairly well-accepted genetic/cultural link to the other people in the region who also claim it, the Arab peoples. So when I hear of Palestinian people becoming refugees, it’s more than a little unsettling. Especially considering the undeniable historical proof that we did once upon a time take Israel from someone else, way back in the days of Jericho. The Bible ‘justifies’ that invasion by saying that God promised us that land. But if one were to take that statement and place it in a modern context, it would still be an invasion, whatever people believe about the support of God. Then when one looks at Ur, the birthplace of Abraham and his father, who worshipped other gods, and realizes that Ur was located firmly in what is now Iraq, a different picture emerges of our people.

There were multiple peoples and multiple tribes throughout this developing hotspot, from Syria through current day Israel. However the chips were laid out from then through the Roman Empire, until now, is open to a lot of interpretation when considering fairness.

One thing I do know though, having grown up with a lifetime of tales about our people being refugees in various eras, is that no one should have to remain a refugee. And the expulsion of the Palestinians, is repugnant to me on that basis alone. Add to this that they, as Arabs, are historical brothers, the situation becomes even more concerning. Admittedly, our history as ‘brothers’ is rife with us mutually pounding the snot out of each other. I have heard the lame arguments that Palestinians are not really a unified people, but we don’t get to define a people any more than anyone else in history got to define us. Their tenure in Israel before the Holocaust refugees began returning there, has regency in their memories. So what should the world honor more, primacy or regency? Who was there first? Or who was there most recently and will be most immediately affected and displaced? Are there, should there be squatters rights? Are they in fact squatters at all, given that we arrived in Israel thousands of years ago from Iraq and wrested the land from someone before (if we are going to talk about primacy and aboriginal status)?

I don’t have any conclusions at this point about the borders. The one thing I know is that Israel is a state. We are not going away. We should have a homeland. But so should the Palestinians, and since they were there for at least decades, they should be able to remain. The ideal would be for both groups to consider this land their homeland with truly equal sovereign rights. But no world leaders are smoking enough pot together to allow for this kind of solution anytime soon, and so it remains a hippy fantasy.


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