Not knowing what to expect in the near future, where the leaders of Israel and Palestine will take the next crucial steps to resolve the mess that is the Intifada, I am presently thinking of a Gaza Strip without settlements. No matter where you stand on the issues of Erez Israel (the Land of Moses), the Palestinian claim for nationhood, or the many other intricate issues that that vampirically sucks international energy, a settler-less Gaza is a great step in some sort of right direction.
I’ve been researching the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict for about six years now, and came to the conclusion that Israel must leave the West Bank and Gaza for a true peace. The Palestinians must give up their “right to return” and stop the ultra-religious desire to end the state of Israel for a true peace. And Jerusalem, well, that’s a super touchy issue that could be solved by making the Old City an autonomous city of the world…somehow. Though the Israeli fences, mines, checkpoints, and control of Gaza remain, the Bantusian gentrification by mostly-Zionist settlers will end tomorrow. Finally.
Most journalists don’t use the intellectual term Bantusian to describe Israel’s settlements, perhaps to avoid making the Israelis look like the racist South African government that used the same method to control it’s black populations. But if you look at all the maps that mainstream newspapers are posting online, you can see that Israel took chunks of Gaza, gentrified them (Palestinian-free), and then paved and irrigated them. Suburbs with barbed wire, machine guns, and terrorist attacks surrounded by a people that are poor, hungry, and full of emotions. A people that sometimes express themselves via rocks, guns, bombs, and rockets.
With the Bantusian settlements gone, the IDF has no reason to enter Gaza. I’m sure they’ll find plenty, especially after hearing that some conservative Likud members have called Gaza “Hamastan” in reference to the Hamas’ power there. In the present, knowing that IDF forces will remove settlers who are squatting, and that the settlements will be razed and handed over to the Palestinians, I am grateful that the children there will at least know a time where tanks didn’t roll through their slums and city centers.
The near future leads into foggy grayness. Concepts of civil war (Hamas vs. PLO), Gaza as an open “Escape From New York” style prison, continued expansion of the suburban West Bank settlements, and the final construction of the wall, will keep this land an open, bloody book. Starving Palestinians will continue to raise arms against one of the most advanced military forces in the world. Israelis will continue to claim the land as theirs by right, so says Moses, setting up trailer settlements, demanding protection, water, power, etc. from a sympathetic Israeli government.
Last year, I met a San Franciscan photographer who travelled extensively in Palestine taking photos. I asked him what he thought would be a sensible solution to the conflict there. He had no idea. Taking the Gaza pullout for what it is, a move on a Byzantine chess board, I can only hope that the next steps continue to move closer to some kind of peace. Who knows what’s really going on behind the scenes. In a land where alternate realities exist, where 5,000 year old texts create national boundaries for some, and where taking out a busload of civilians can send others to heaven, I can only hope that a generation will soon walk safely without fear of revenge. Praying in their own way, acknowledging the fact that nationality isn’t that big of a deal when we all bleed and die the same way.
I can only hope….