The only way to make sense of Netanyahu’s claim that UNSC Resolution #2334 is a declaration of war against Israel is if, in his mind, all of Palestine has belonged to Israel for 3000 years. By this reasoning the boundaries of nearly all nations on our planet would need to be redrawn.
. . .
Most often I write of love, acceptance, beauty, even soul. You may see that as the saccharine babble of an aged flower child, but I was not a flower child. I was a yuppie wife serving brunches of scrambled eggs decorated with truffles cut in the shapes of hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades.
Since this post runs counter to my norm, I want to establish my creds. In Sarajevo I talked down a crazed man with a gun threatening to kill me. In Kabul I uncovered my blonde hair and stepped out of a van to face an approaching phalanx of frightened U.S. soldiers with M16 assault rifles; it was the day after an assassination attempt on Karzai and they thought we were going to attack the embassy. Outside of Bethlehem I ran, with the help of a young colleague, through Israeli tear gas canisters exploding like Fourth of July fireworks behind, in front, and beside us without an iota of justification. At the Qalandia checkout at the edge of Ramallah I photographed Palestinian men behind a dumpster being shot at from the Israeli military towers.
I know there is evil in the world.
Now, let’s talk about Netanyahu.
In 2007 I was photographing a female member of Israel’s Knesset in a sunlit alcove off the hallway along the members’ offices. It was in line with the interviews, photographs, and biographies for the book “Sixty Years, Sixty Voices: Israeli and Palestinian Women” that I produced and edited.
The alcove was warm and quiet, and my subject was generous of spirit. With the camera still to my eye, I turned from her to the hallway behind her when I heard people walking rapidly towards us.
The impact of the smug arrogant face I saw through the closeup lens crashed against the back of my skull. My camera unmasked pomposity, mindless hatred, and a craving for power. It took a couple seconds for me to realize I was looking at Netanyahu.
I put my camera down, shaken, praying he would never again be Israel’s Prime Minister. He was re-elected in 2009.
You cannot understand the actions of Israel without understanding the depth of the wounds of Jews; and we who are not Jews cannot fully understand that depth, its tentacles, and how it begets itself through generations. We should not try to tell ourselves we understand.
Still, we who are not Jews can see what perhaps the majority of Israelis and many non-Israeli Jews cannot see of themselves.
My daughter, perhaps the sanest person I know, is Jewish. She chose the religion of her father. In her cells she viscerally “knows” annihilating catastrophe could happen at any moment. She maps our family and friends escape routes for the vampire invasion or the nuclear bomb. She gives gifts of radios that can be hand cranked to hear broadcasts when the grid goes down.
Over a decade ago, I was driven back to East Jerusalem from Ramallah by a Canadian diplomat. It was the first time I heard someone say aloud what I had come silently to believe – Israelis were enacting on the Palestinians what had been enacted on them, and they did not know it. The inclosing wall, confiscation of property, inability to travel, restriction of goods, night raids, mass imprisonments, dehumanization, destruction of homes and fields, and repeated killings, including of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.
I came to believe, further, that the majority of Jewish Israelis would not – could not — feel safe until they were able to do to the Palestinians (their “enemies”) what had been done to them. Only that amount of power would guarantee their safety. Faced with presumed alienation or survival, most Israelis would deny, and sadly or angrily justify, their actions. Further, the wall and laws against interactions with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza made the suffering invisible if they wished it to be so.
Netanyahu, voted in by the most fearful of the Israelis, has never brought integrity to a peace negotiation. He has been videotaped telling Israeli families he has no intention of following through on any agreements he made.
For him, it has always been about stalling international powers while reclaiming Palestine as the Biblical Judea and Samaria by building “facts on the ground” through settlements. The belief that an Omnipotent Landlord promised this land to the Jews has more reality than the history of the land over time. The lure – perhaps the safety of a promised “homeland” – of this belief cannot be overestimated. Knesset docents explain the Chagall mural of an Israel that includes Judea and Samaria as the present day reality. Fundamental US evangelicals gape in awe, not realizing they are looking at a contiguous map of the nations of Israel and Palestine.
Like most tyrants, Netanyahu has become more delusional with time – more paranoid, frightened, and frightening. He claims UN Security Council Resolution # 2334 is a declaration of war against Israel. What it does, in fact, is reaffirm that Israel’s establishment of settlements has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and is a major obstacle to two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.
The only way to make sense of Netanyahu’s reasoning that the UN revolution is a declaration of war against Israel is if, in his mind as in the mural, all of Palestine has belonged to Israel for 3000 years. By this reasoning the boundaries of nearly all lands on our planet would need to be redrawn.
Truth is difficult to unthread through our mismatched versions of history, but we have learned – or have we? – that arrogant, delusional, narcissistic heads of states are dangerous. Is that something we learn only in retrospect? Are we learning it again?
A constant vigilant closeup lens is require, of Netanyahu and others.