As a regular visitor to Israel to guest teach (six trips since 1999 — my next is this April) and as an American Jewish artist and educator whose educational artworks on the Holocaust have been exhibited around the region, editor Joel Magalnick’s article (“Provocative bus ads go to highest levels of county government,” Dec. 24) and Rabbi Jonathan Singer’s Seattle Times op-ed, co-signed by 24 rabbis (“The truth about Israel beyond the failed bus ads,” Jan. 3) were of great interest.
As a pro-Israel, pro-Palestine advocate, my human rights advocacy for victimization on both sides of the conflict results in scathing, sometimes hateful feedback from those who view Israel, or Palestinians, as sole conflict causes. Both love the “blame-the-other” name game.
For me the Metro bus ads were anti-Israeli and anti-Palestinian. By failing to address Palestinian war crimes (strapping bombs on youth and young adults to blow themselves and their victims up is not an internationally recognized form of military engagement) while solely addressing Israeli war and human rights crimes, the ads only offer another blame game.
While I loathe Israeli policies in Gaza and the West Bank, in its defense Israel deserves kudos for allowing B’tselem and other human rights organizations. Israel alone-is-at-fault critics run the serious risk of being condemned for hypocrisy in ignoring state torture and execution of political dissidents in every other country in the region, Hamas in Gaza included. Where are proposed bus ads addressing Hamas’ war crimes?
If bus ad proponents are pro-Palestinian, they must accept the reality that short of nuclear destruction, Israel stays. Israel and Diaspora supporters must recognize that Gazans won’t vanish (unless rising sea levels displace them, and then Tel Aviv goes, too).
Those of us more concerned about seeing fewer children who’ve lost half their brains or become quadriplegic from missiles and bombs than in seeing a greater Israel or an Israel-gone Palestine can do something: Phone and e-mail our U.S. Senators, House representatives and the President and urge the American, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to include Hamas in settlement talks.
Without Gaza and Hamas represented, peace talks are like an unbaked pie. Isn’t it time to move beyond the jargon and blame game?