ETA: Please read Nedra’s very thoughtful response to this in the comments. She’s on the ground and doing the work in Jerusalem and has a far clearer view of these things than I do.

Again, I’m writing from the perspective of profound ignorance that blights all of us who choose our media bubbles and stick to them. (Disclaimer: My preferred news sources include the BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Rachel Maddow. If I get my act together this year, I hope to add, NOS Journaal, and at least one other Dutch source.)
In response to my last post, my mother referred to a friend of the family, a liberal Jewish woman who made aliyah (Note to the goyim: To make aliyah as a Jew is to emigrate to Israel) and lives in one of the settlements. Mum’s wish is that I get in touch with this friend who has on the ground experience and for a variety of reasons doesn’t fit the stereotypes, but ‘says things like “Palestinians teach their children to hate”‘.

This phrase has always struck a nerve with me. Yes, among the Palestinians are those who attack Israeli settlers and soldiers and who fire explosives from Gaza into those settlements. And the entire population suffers IDF (Israeli Defence Force) response far out of scale with the initial attack. 

And it has happened over and over and over again.

We Jews have an interesting history with occupying powers that predates our history as one. By the (hundreds of?) thousands we endeavoured to escape the pogroms of the late 19th century. We all know what happened to those who didn’t escape, but with almost the regularity with which we tell the story of Passover, we retell the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. We tell of how the Jews of Warsaw were forced into smaller and smaller spaces and had their resources systematically cut off, and of how valiantly the Jews of the ghetto fought against the Nazis. ‘One shudders to think that it required a quarter of a million Jews to give their lives, for the remainder to understand the reality of the situation and come to the right conclusions,’ wrote one Shmuel Winter as documented on the Yad Vashem web site dedicated to the uprising (

This is the crux of the matter. When we were systematically restricted in World War II, we finally rose up. We glorify those who finally rose up and shudder through the tears of 20/20 hindsight at the meekness with which we suffered the slow approach of our destruction. I don’t have my copy of Night to hand, but Eli Wiesel described the situation in the Romanian village in which he was raised similarly. The villagers could see what was happening and talked about emigrating (to Palestine, generally), but few made the leap because that village had been their home for a thousand years.

I know I’m simplifying the matter, but wasn’t Palestine the home of these people for a thousand years before the Zionist movement and the establishment of Israel? Yes, their children are taught to hate the occupying power. We glorify our meekness, but wish we had hated sooner. Perhaps something could have been done. One of the problems is that Israel insists on the right to the territory that comes from greater military strength rather than the might that derives from diplomacy and its attendant hard work. 

Colonial histories, from the liberal perspective, often berate the colonising power for the length of time it took it to leave. Britain’s long occupation of India and Rhodesia (and, for that matter, Palestine) are cases in point. France in Algeria, Belgium in the Congo, the US in any great number of places – North Dakota at the moment comes to mind. And I berate Israel for the same reason. It’s long since been time to make a solution. Blaming the occupied population for their resistance isn’t productive.