Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Israel Thoughts, again...

so i'm sitting here reading the nytimes and i see an article about factional fighting in gaza. apparently a fatah political leader was shot 40 times execution style by some hamas militants. my usual reaction to this storyline is something like, "how can they have their own state or gain any kind of political legitimacy when the two political parties, instead of fighting in the polls, actually shoot and kill each other." but this time it was different: this time i read the article 4 seconds after sending an email to a family friend asking whether i can stay at his sister's place in jerusalem, where i plan to do some research. and now i see the story was written in jerusalem.

it sets off a completely new line of thinking helping to explain the incongruity in my mostly liberal approach to politics when it comes to israel. how can i possibly think of (let alone look forward to) doing research in a city with as much violence in its environs as jerusalem? well, because i feel safe there. and that's the point. i realize that the often inappropriate actions of israel are made in order for that country to remain livable. i realize the wall, for example, has helped make israel safer and it makes me hesitant to blast it outright--even as i walk around berlin and witness firsthand the omnipotent damage a wall can cause.

of course, it would be absolutely absent of me if i didn't acknowledge how selfish this thought is, if i didn't recognize the opposing argument that israel shouldn't be livable for people like me, that it may never have been "mine" to begin with.

but that would blow this into the impossibly settled debate that dominates the whole issue. i don't care to get into any of that now. instead, i realize how unique a case israel is. it has fought for its borders numerous times in the 60 years of its existence and therefore has found plenty of reason to justify its most controversial and violent actions. it has done this while remaining a hotbed of innovation and culture and a state where a middle class thrives.

i realize that i don't feel afraid of going to israel because of its history of protecting itself. is the fact that i support the violent oneupsmanship a terrible realization?

or just the facts of life?