Israel is 65 and still doesn’t have peace

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Israel is 65 and still doesn’t have peace
Ray Hanania
Saudi Gazette Newspaper Sunday May 4, 2013

People come up to me and ask: “Are you angry Israel is celebrating it’s 65th anniversary as a country this year?” I always respond the same way, and say: “No, it doesn’t bother me at all.” That always surprises them. As a Palestinian, they feel I should be outraged.

I’m not outraged at all, I tell them. In fact, I welcome it. Because when Israel turns 65, chances are Israelis will do what many do when they turn 65. Retire, collect their pensions, and move to Miami. Of course, that’s just some humor in an often un-humorous Middle East.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues unresolved now for the 65th year, that’s if we don’t count the nearly half century of turmoil that preceded Israel’s destruction of Palestine in 1948. To many Israelis, 65 is a big deal. To most Palestinians, it’s just another year marking an injustice involving Israel’s refusal to recognize the rights not only of Palestinians living under occupation, but also of Christian and Muslim Palestinians living as Israeli citizens, with something short of full citizenship.

Israel’s Arabs are not really equal citizens in a state that declares Judaism to not only be its official religion, but also it’s national identity.

Yet, I don’t care what people want to call themselves at 65 years or at 100 years. What concerns me more is how people are treated. At Israel’s 65th birthday, non-Jews are not treated very well in Israel and under Israeli occupation. When you have to go to great lengths to build the Great Concrete Wall of Israel to encircle not only Israel’s pre-1967 borders but large swaths of Palestinian lands and water wells in the West Bank, you have to wonder what kind of “independence” Israelis really have.

It’s certainly not the kind of independence any free people would consider ideal, or, for that matter, democratic. Because even though Israel and its aggressive allies call it a “democracy,” Israel is not a democracy when you have one law for one group of people (Jews) and another law for another group of people (Muslim and Christian Arabs).

By now, most readers know that I often refer to Israel and “Christian and Muslim Arabs.” I do this to stress the very important point often ignored in the Islamic world that the Palestinians under occupation are not just Muslim, they are Christian, too.

Americans, who are mostly Christian, should be reminded of that point constantly too, as it just might one day cause them to wake up from all that pro-Israel brainwashing by the pro-Israel dominated news media and realize that their fellow Christians are being persecuted along with Muslims by the Israeli state.

Israel’s anniversaries cause great consternation among some of the Arab countries that have recognized Israel, even if those relations remain icy.

In Jordan, for example, a member of the Parliament visited Israel and offered his best wishes to Israeli President Shimon Perez. When he returned to Jordan, he was harshly condemned for his act of “normalization.”

The word “normalization” is a bludgeon that fanatics use to counter Palestinians and Arabs and Israelis who believe that compromise through peace talks, not the destruction of the other side, is the preferred desired outcome. Why should the legislator be condemned when Jordan has signed a peace treaty with Israel on behalf of every Jordanian citizen?
In Lebanon, a movie that was made in Israel called “The Attack,” a propaganda film about a Palestinian Israeli doctor who learns his wife was killed in a suicide bombing, has been banned from movie theaters.

By the way, who hankers more for the notion of “suicide bombings,” the Palestinians who stopped using the terrorist practice many years ago or the Israelis who continue to bring it up as a reason why Palestinian rights are denied and the Apartheid Wall exist?

Elsewhere, it is the same. Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt is on ice, and its relations with the Middle East, where it resides, remain shaky, at best. Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation and who have been denied the right to reclaim their lands, homes, property and rights taken from them in 1948 should be happy with the Israel today that “celebrates” its 65th anniversary, because it’s not much of an anniversary at all.

Israel today is far from the sanctuary Jewish immigrants fleeing European and American anti-Semitism had hoped to establish. Israel is a land that is notorious for killing innocent civilians (collateral damage) and violating international laws (extra-judicial killings, collective punishment and religious-based discrimination). The Israeli civilian population is constantly looking over its shoulder in fear and is constantly seeking accolades from anyone and everyone; this need for validation is a stunning level of paranoia and recognition that reflects the country’s insecurities as a nation.

Decades after the Palestinians and Arabs recognized Israel, Israelis continue to insist that their “enemies” refuse to recognize them. Talk about low self-esteem!

The reality is that 65 years later, Israelis control most of the historic land of Palestine, and have a military that is second to none so long as it is propped up by the American military and billions in American tax dollars. But they don’t have peace. It’s a tragedy of their own making that they should contemplate as they move into “retirement.” So Happy Anniversary Israel! You brought it on yourself.

— Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania

This post has already been read 125 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com