I have been watching with horror as the current escalation of violence between the government of Israel and Hamas thrusts itself upon the consciousness of the world. It has prompted me to consider the oft repeated canard about Israel's "right to exist." Based on the principles that have come to inform my political philosophy I am forced to conclude Israel has no such "right."
Now before you brand me as antisemitic let me explain what I mean.
From my perspective no nation has a "right to exist" because nations do not have rights, they are artificial legal constructs, much like corporations.
At one time the word nation had a valid definition as a group of people who shared a common culture, language, ethnicity and history--among other things--that distinguished them in general from everyone else. Nation sat at the top of the hierarchy of individual, family, clan and tribe. With the advent of rapid travel, instant communication, world wide commerce and mass migration that higher level of the hierarchy has lost its meaning.
Nation now refers to a geographical territory enclosed by arbitrary boundaries, usually established by military action, ruled by a government that claims a monopoly on force within that territory. In most people's minds that government is synonymous with the nation, so much so that a government is able to propagandize that a threat to itself, that is a threat to its monopoly on power, is a threat to the people as a whole. As a result people have been lead to commit horrible atrocities in defense of their nation when in reality the only threat was to the power and privilege of the people who rule them. Nations, that is the governments who claim to represent them, do not have rights, they have power, generally usurped from those unfortunate enough to be enclosed within their borders.
People have rights. Every Israeli, every Palestinian--every person in the world--has the right to life, liberty and lawfully acquired property. As long as those rights are not respected there will be neither justice nor peace.
The government of Israel unlawfully suppressed the liberty and expropriated the property of a vast number of individual Palestinians. Until that is addressed those people and their progeny have a legitimate grievance. On the other hand, Hamas, and before them the PLO, have targeted the lives of individual Israelis who did not participate in the government of Israel's crimes for no other reason than they happen to be in range. Both governments are concerned only with preserving and expanding their power, neither is concerned with the welfare of the people under their control. They exploit their suffering for political reasons. If that were not true Israel would stop encouraging and subsidizing the expansion of settlements on the property of Palestinians, knowing full well it will draw reprisals, and Hamas would stop provoking the wrath of Israel onto innocent Palestinians by targeting innocent Israelis and then hiding in residential neighborhoods.
Neither the Palestinian people nor the Israeli people are to blame. The blame lies with the amoral elites who rule them and who will stop at nothing to expand their power, privilege and control.
The state of Israel has no "right" to exist, neither does the state of Palestine. The people who live in the land occupied by those two regimes have every right to live free of the pernicious parasites who will not be happy till the sea is filled with blood.
December 29, 2008
Puck T. Smith is the nom de plume of a man who wishes to live his life in peace and obscurity while at the same time sharing the insights he has acquired through both suffering and joy in more than half a century of living in this world of terrible tragedy, radiant beauty and dizzying possibilities.