July 20th, 2006



Well, the people have spoken and I don't know whether to feel proud or worried that so many people have any interest in my opinions. I think I'll avoid berating three quarters of you for being sheep and just bask in the warm glow of your adoration.
I've spent a fair amount of time considering the whole Israel situation. I feel, when I have feelings on Jewishness, like a very distant Jew. True, all of my grandparents are Jewish, but my parents are atheists whose main contribution to my Jewishness was to chop off bits of my penis at an early age and make sure I saw Fiddler on the Roof. I know more than the average person about a few bits of Jewish history, I've visited Auschwitz, and I can recognise Hebrew, but I can't actually read or speak any. The only time I've been to Israel it was to visit Eilat for a diving holiday, and while I do have family there they're not close family, and I don't actually know any of them.

I do, however, feel a strange compulsion to have an opinion on the Israel situation, and I've spent some time reading up on the history of the country in it's current incarnation (i.e. post 1881, when the first wave of Jewish emigration to the area occured). I've considered the wisdom of the Balfour Declaration, the effects of migration from different countries, the way that Israel's relationships with its neighbours have fluctuated, and the various border lines drawn, redrawn and then argued over. I've thought about the necessary resources to make a stable country, the problems with a one-state solution, the tactical problems caused by the Golan Heights, and whether a country that only really existed for 300 years over 2700 years ago has a right to it that outweighs that of the people that lived on it since then.

And I've come to one, very simple, conclusion.

I wish people would stop killing each other.

I mean, there are ancillary thoughts that go with it, but the more I thought about the actions of this country and that country, and the religious and historical factors that went into decision A and response B, the more I remembered that deep down I don't believe in either religion or countries. I believe in people. And I have no patience for people who use religion or nation as an excuse to hurt those around them.

I believe that the fighting will not stop until the people involved do not live in fear of attack, until they have jobs and homes and security and hope. This, I believe, is what happened in Northern Ireland - where vast amounts of subsidies helped bring the economy and the standard of living up to the point where people would rather live than fight, and everyday life wasn't something they felt they had to blame on someone. This wasn't a quick process - I don't believe there's anything that can be done that will erase the hurt within one generation (and it will almost certainly more).

I don't believe you can make Israel go away. I don't believe you can make Palestine go away. But I do believe that people can learn to get on with their neighbours, if they're given the chance to do so. And that making living conditions better for all concerned is the best way to do this.

Oh, and it would be great if they'd all stop killing each other.