Peace by Public Criticism: Peace in Gaza, Good Relations between Palestine and Israel

To criticize Israel, Gaza or Palestinian is not the same as criticizing it’s people. A political system, or lack there of, is worthy of criticism if no other reason than it’s position of power. You see, the person in the position of power is the only one who can truly make peace last. It’s like an adult with a unruly child, the parent must set the example. Parents aren’t necessarily smarter either, they’re just in a position of power which is why they are parents.

Look, it’s shitty businesses that rockets have been flying out of Gaza and I feel for the terror that it is causing ordinary people. You gotta fight back and protect your peeps, isn’t that what Dali Lama would do? Well maybe not quite, he’d likely retaliate with some form of peaceful non-retaliation which would a beautiful thing to witness but I’m afraid a lot of people would end up dying. Could criticism, dialogue and debate achieve peace? It can when the political entities that control the war feel the public awareness and hear the demands for answers. Public interest, public pressure, debate and the free exchange of ideas are vital to keeping our politicians on their toes, otherwise who is keeping score? How do we know what’s the truth? The CBC and CNN combined couldn’t do a decent profile on the the Israel/Palestine conflict if they tried. Where are the discussions, the debate, the interest for our fellow humans? The curiosity about what is truth and what are we being told?

It’s a political game that has profound cultural ramifications for its citizens but I’m afraid it’s not the people in the places, it’s the people running the places. Leaders must take greater responsibility and the people must hold them to account. Over and over. And over. After all, the political leaders are the only ones that can really stop a war, start a war or put it on hold. Even if it’s just a 24 hour cease fire, if they can stop it for a little while they can stop it for a long while. It’s a choice and anyone who tells you that the situation with Israel and Palestine is complicated is referring to only to their understanding the situation. Peace is not complicated, history can be.

Israel has been saying that they want the bombs to stop. The leaders and public figures chat this mantra over and over on the news because it’s truth for all of us: we all want the bombs to stop. But what about the big pink elephant in the room? Hello Military Occupation Elephant we’ve all been wondering about you.

The right to self-determination is the right to govern one selves as they see fit but Israel has made it very hard, if not impossible, to do that.The wall Israel built and is still building acts as a deterrent to terrorists – especially the kind that blow up busses with women and children on board. The facts speak for themselves because once Israel started putting the wall up, the incidence of terror almost vanished. There is all kinds of crazy shit that the people of Israel need to be protected from ranging from the rational to the truly insane but protecting yourself should not infringe on the fundamental human rights of a fellow human being.

Who’s making more peace-centric requests? When Benjamin Netanyahu is asked direct questions about matters pertaining to peace he is rarely forthcoming with ideas outside of they have to stop throwing bombs. This seriously stunning PR line suddenly positions the entire battle as if it’s being waged over Hamas tossing bombs at them for some unknown reason. There’s no good reason the throw a bomb but the reasons are pretty integral to the storyline.

We know both sides are capable of peace because they can agree to some peace even if it’s in the middle of battle. This is not an issue of capacity, this an issue of willingness and intention. But it’s not enough to just stop throwing bombs.

Just like you can’t grow a garden on a sidewalk because you need rich fertile soil. No different than peace because if you want peace, you’ll need a rich playing field where no fighting exists in order for anything to grow. even if you set up a two state garden, we’ll need to tend to the soil first.

Public criticism and discourse can get us though this but we have to be willing to talk about it. There is no power in ignorance, so pick a side and know that you might be wrong. But please pick a side becasue people are dying.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Desmond TuTu

Raymond Helkio

Raymond Helkio is an award winning director, freelance journalist and author of several publications. His work focuses on LGBT issues.