On the morning of Wednesday, July 23rd, I watched Barack Obama on CNN as he addressed questions about his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because he is a bi-racial American (but considered by most a black one) I think most people assumed that he would shy away from these types of questions. But Obama did what true change agents do; he stepped up to the plate and took his swings.
Obama told reporters that he supports Israel's right to exist. And he feels that Palestine - namely the sometimes political (but oftentimes terrorist) group Hamas - should do the same. However, I'm almost certain he gritted his teeth when making these statements. Like most of us, he knows that no lasting peace can exist in this region until those involved can look beyond their petty differences to accept each other as siblings.
True, the State of Israel has only been in existence for 60 plus years (it was first established in 1948 following the tragic events of World War II), but when will enough be enough? When will the bombs stop falling from the sky? When will innocents from both sides not be fearful about being kidnapped, murdered even? One would hope these events occur within our lifetimes, with Barack Obama leading the way. But the odds of peace being restored in this region are almost slim to none.
The Israelis and Palestinians are unable to resolve their differences because, in 1948, many Palestinians were forced out of their homes to make room for displaced Jewish refugees. These Jewish refugees, who had been living in Germany for generations, reportedly returned to the Middle East, with the help of the United States and its allies, to reclaim their land, the Promised Land.
I think the Israelis’ relocation to this land could have been a peaceful process. The Israeli and Palestinian citizens could have created a society that protected the identities, the integrity, of both cultures. Their children could have grown up as true neighbors rather than ones separated by a line in the sand. But the Israelis seemingly allowed elitist attitudes to cloud their reasoning, their judgment. One could even say the Israelis harbored a sense of entitlement. And I believe the United States’ government supported these sentiments because of its members’ own racist attitudes. By endorsing the forced relocation of Palestinians, its members undoubtedly believed the Israelis were superior to their darker skinned neighbors. It was 1948, remember?
As a bi-racial American, Barack Obama should be able to relate to the Palestinians' frustration. He seeks to be the leader of a country that has chosen to be divided along racial/ethnic lines rather than united. But Obama also knows that unity, like change, is possible when you look beneath the surface of things to expose issues common to every man and woman on this planet. Like it or not, we’re in the same boat. We will either live together as one group, one family, or die as separate groups. Mark my word, though: We will come to regret our decision to not do unto others as we would have others do unto us.
My hope is that the Israelis and Palestinians sit down to hash out their differences. I pray that they will begin to understand the racist attitudes and beliefs that caused their relationship to get off on the wrong foot.
It didn’t have to be this way.
© 2008 Jeffery A. Faulkerson. All rights reserved.