Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Respect and Coexistence - an Alternate Perspective

Episode 85 of the excellent You Tube series: "Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem" had a dramatically different, interesting perspective as a leader of Naturei Karta ( ) was interviewed in Jerusalem. From their website it states: "The name was given to a group of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who refused (and still refuse) to recognize the existence or authority of the so-called "State of Israel" and made (and still make) a point of publicly demonstrating their position, the position of the Torah and authentic unadulterated Judaism."

These people believe that the "State of Israel" can only be established when the Messiah returns. This traditional Jewish (religious) perspective had adherents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel living peacefully with their Arab neighbors, though the growing tensions after World War I inevitably affected them. The rabbi and his wife were interviewed eloquently expressing their desires to live respecting the lives of their Palestinian neighbors and potentially within a Palestinian State.

As I've watched many episodes of the You Tube series I've learned quite a few new terms such as:

"martyr" which would translate into "terrorist who'd been killed by Israeli forces" in my good old days I grew up in and of course "settler", the Jewish residents of West Bank settlements.

As I watch more and more I increasingly have images both of traditional segregation and racism in the United States and of the former apartheid of South Africa.

The link between these was clearly shown in the recent Sleepless episode. The Orthodox Jews of Mea Shearim (in Naturei Karta) respect those they see as "different" such as Palestinians. They do Not see themselves as "better than" these people, allowing them to dictate how the others should live. They want the freedom to live their own lives in their religious community without interference. (I would note that their biggest difficulties and conflicts often are with Jewish and/or Israeli authorities who either support "secular Judiasm" or from their perspective distort their religious rules/lives.)

In contrast to this perspective The Settlers, Israeli military/political establishment, American political establishment and many others rarely see Palestinians as their/our equals. Palestinians are expected to leave where their families have lived for generations and "go with the Arabs" (e.g. in Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.)

When we look at other issues, this issue of respect pushes forward so easily. Arizonans with "accents" when speaking English are somehow "wrong", despite both the facts that Arizona was originally in Mexico, a Spanish speaking country as well as the fact that we have: Southern accents, New York accents, Bostonian accents, "hillbilly" accents as well as British accents we hear frequently.

We are both a "Christian" and "English speaking" country in the U.S. according to the views of many. The Native Americans who were here before both the Christians and English speakers have no such rights to dictate how we live. We are "basically good" and the country that should be emulated by the rest of the world despite: the genocide Native Americans experience here, the history of slavery and segregation and inequality towards Black Americans, the nuclear explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and other things that have been done in our name.

Palestinians will not find peace until or unless there is respect and acceptance of them. Iran and Iraq will not have peace until we and they find respect and acceptance of each other. North Korea and Pakistan and other countries face similar issues. Some of these issues are more complex than others, but they all require us to respect and support others.


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