The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

And the parting was as the fingernails from the flesh

A few years back I was asked what could be done to attempt peace within the Israel/Palestine parts of the Middle East. I suggested then a variant on three points that other roadmaps have suggested before me. The first two points were that joint security patrols be literally co-mingled, Palestinian and Israeli security people working together in the same unit; and that the wall be dismantled. The reasoning here is that the strongest force to peace within a diverse (non-homogeneous) nation is mutual familiarity and respect: which is optimally derived through integration, and never through isolation.

The third point had been a complete moratorium on building further settlements.

I hadn't imagined, then, that any existing Israeli settlements, legal or not, would ever be dismantled. As with the 1800's United States "manifest destiny" settling of the American West, one of the most effective methods for a government to tacitly lay claim to territory under dispute is to allow or tacitly encourage a situation such that desirable individuals individually invest themselves and their familial future in that land. (While not directly related, it makes a curious point that some Mormon scriptures closely parallel Judaic Zionist perspectives.) As of the time of writing, several of the Israeli settlements, in Gaza as elsewhere, had been established long enough for children and sometimes the children's children to grow up in these places, as the only home they had ever known. For these children, now grown into adults, a government which enters into their lives as the uprooter of their homes cannot but be seen as hostile, fascistic, something to be hated from the depths of one's soul ... as indeed many of those whose homes or livelihoods had been previously lost to roadblocks and wall had been seeing it all along.

Maybe absolute gestures were necessary, either as leap of faith or as bargaining chip. But just maybe, in the utter inability to discover a less drastic compromise: the seeds of the next generation of hatred and terror have been sown.


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