Peace in the Holy Land

Adam Shbeita on Peace in Israel and Palestine

Nationalist extremism has done a lot of damage to working people around the world. It is one of the means by which support for wars can be whipped up and maintained, and violent suppression of minorities is another of its results. I am for peace, I am against violence and oppression, and I recognize that conflicts that are not justly settled by peaceful means will continue to cause wars. I oppose nationalist extremism on all sides.

In the Holy Land, now a dangerous focus of tension and violence, the nexus around which violence develops is the continued occupation of the West Bank, and the prison-like conditions in blockaded Gaza. The Israeli settlements in the West Bank were not set up because the settlers needed land – there was considerable land available for settlement within the Israeli borders of early 1967. The intention of the settlers was to dispossess the Palestinians, and put the occupied land permanently within Israeli borders. Realizing this, almost all the world’s governments, including that of the United States, refuse to recognize Israeli land claims, and the world formally considers all the settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Some of those governments, including our own, nevertheless aid the forces of occupation, and look for any excuse to support the present right-wing government in Israel no matter what it does.

I have friends and relatives on all sides in the conflict. But as I have Jewish friends, I recognize that most American Jews are not really political supporters of the extreme-right and xenophobic forces that form the current Israeli government. My Jewish friends are generally supportive of the peace forces in Israel today, and are highly critical of the Netanyahu-Liberman government not only because it does anything it can to sabotage peace efforts, but because it has seriously worsened the conditions of the elderly, the infirm, and the working class in general in Israel.

Most of my friends and relatives of Palestinian background, whether Muslim or Christian, are also supporters of peace. But of course, like most thoughtful people who examine the situation, they recognize that real peace is impossible while the Israeli government refuses to end the occupation, insists on building more illegal settlements, and does everything it can to force Palestinians to leave Palestine.

Unreasonable hatreds, on all sides, are a serious problem. How could this not be the case under present circumstances? But ending the hatred cannot be a precondition for peace, because the hatred is caused by occupation, injustice, and violence, rather than being their cause.

I am an American, and I am running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives from California’s 44th District. My focus is on the policies of the United States, rather than those of foreign governments. One of my concerns is how the United States can improve matters, not worsen them, in the Middle East. Like almost all current members of Congress, my opponent starts with the assumption that she can never oppose, or even substantively criticize, any action of the Israeli government. I do not believe that her position is that of most voters in the 44th District. I believe that the people of the 44th District would be better served by someone willing to consider putting the United States on the side of peace, not only in words but in deeds.

Thank you for your attention. May peace be with you. Peace, Paz, Shalom, Salaam! -Adam Shbeita