Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Israeli Control Inhibits Palestinian Reconciliation

I highly recommend that you visit Israel. It really doesn’t get enough credit.

One of Israel’s top selling points is its location at the junction between East and West. In Tel Aviv along the beautiful beaches, you could be in any major European city, judging by the nightlife and cosmopolitan feel, but you’ll be eating authentic Middle Eastern food, listening to raucous conversation in Hebrew or enjoying a hookah with friends at the same time.

If you’re looking for a bit more culture and history, Jerusalem is the place to go. Less then an hour away from Tel Aviv, the attire is more modest, the nights a bit quieter, and you feel that certain holy, spiritual quality you would expect in the Holy Land.

Unfortunately, that feeling may be slightly unsettled by the unavoidable military presence throughout Israel. If you are not able to find an Israeli cab, going through Israeli Defense Force checkpoints in a Palestinian taxi will definitely add to your travel time. Since military service is mandatory, all adults know how to use guns and often carry them around, which may startle an unprepared American tourist. And yes, Israel is pretty concerned with safety, so security checks abound and the beautiful tourists sights are intertwined with mazes of fences, walls and barriers.

Despite the military presence, “Israelis say they have moved on” from their fears of attacks, according to a recent Time Magazine article (“Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” Sept. 2, 2010), and feel confident living their lives normally. Indeed, despite Israel’s security issues, Israelis have “moved on” – they have overcome the obstacles to their nation’s flourishing and live relatively normal lives.

Isn’t this what Palestinians ought to do as well? Bury the hatchet, accept reality and continue going about their normal lives, as Israelis have done? Yes. But it is more difficult in their case.

This is exactly what some Palestinians have done, such as those who were displaced in 1948 when the state of Israel was consolidated in a catastrophic war. Those Palestinians accepted reality, the reality that their homes were now underneath the foundations of the Jewish state. They became Palestinian refugees, which is the largest refugee population in the world and the only nation of refugees to have its own U.N. body, UNRWA. So yes, the refugees of 1948 who left the region that became Israel “moved on,” literally.

The refugees who settled in the rest of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) after 1948 clung on a bit longer to the hope of returning to their homes and to normality, despite the fact that Israel razed their villages and turned the land into airports, national parks or new cities. But after the 1967 war, when Israel advanced into the West Bank and Gaza and began its occupation of those lands in violation of numerous international laws and U.N. resolutions, more Palestinians “moved on” and began “normal” lives in other countries.

When Israelis chose to “move on,” they remained in their homes. Their nation is intact, secure and free. Palestinians are kept out. The Israelis drive on separate roads to their settlements in the West Bank, which is referred to as Judea and Samaria. Many settlers don’t realize their presence there is illegal, because no distinction is made between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Israelis in Israel itself see little evidence of the occupation. If they want to “move on,” they simply skip over the critical articles in the paper about the West Bank.

Palestinians would be very happy to “move on” as well. “Moving on,” however, is a bit more difficult when Israel controls every aspect of your life. Israel directs on a day-to-day basis whether or not you can travel to your school or to your job and whether you can leave your city. They decide when you receive water and how much of it you receive. Israel controls whether or not aid organizations can deliver you their supplies. Israel even manages what the Palestinian Authority can and cannot control.

The West Bank is a part of Israel that most tourists and most Israelis don’t see. Israel can’t pretend Palestinians have any options to move forward when the occupation restricts necessary Palestinian autonomy. Palestinians would be happy to move on, as Israelis have. All Israel needs to do is let them.

Elise Garofalo is a junior in the College. She can be reached at TIN CAN TELEPHONE appears every other Friday. “

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