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Comparing Conflicts

Today’s blog post comes from Valparaiso University Law Student Sha’na H…

During our first day of class at Shaari Mishpat College, we discussed Zionism and the tension between Israelis and Palestinians. Honestly speaking, I was not aware of the severity or even that there was current tension until taking this course and seeing the reaction of some of the Israeli students. As I listened to the story of this tension, I could not help but think about African Americans in America. Many would like to say that there is freedom and true citizenship, but I am filled with intense passion of disagreement when I hear this. I do believe that there is black exceptionalism, but as a whole I do not believe that America has truly solved the issues of regulating its different racial groups. While America focuses on race differences and Israel tends to focus on religious differences, I would like to break down the parts of comparison and contrast for further clarification.

For starters, we talked about the Jews being stripped of their self-identity. African Americans were stripped of that during slavery. Forcibly removed from their homes and countries to be taken away to another country to do the work that they were told to do by Europeans. Jews experienced this sadness in the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a horrific experience and I am sad that it took about a decade to end. Again, I think about slavery which took at least a century to end. The millions of lost souls on the 400 mile boat journey to the “New World”, horrible working conditions, and lack of self-autonomy. In the Holocaust 6 million lost, of that 1.5 million being innocent children. It is truly really sad, and there is no excuse for any of these hate crimes.

Meanwhile back in Israel, I then look to the Partition Plan, which was supposed to be the solution to the tension that drove Jews away to begin with. While on paper the agreement appeared to solve the issue, we all know from the 1948 War of Independence to the Jews and Catastrophe to the Palestinians that this was not the case. The Jews were able to begin gaining its national identity and its home state. The Palestinians lost the war overall, and as a result many fled and do not feel like they have a home. The end result is different dependent on who you ask, which makes arriving at a solution nearly impossible. Again for comparison, I look to the Emancipation Proclamation, Constitutional Amendments, and Civil Rights Movements. Dependent on who you ask, you will get a different answer as to the conclusion. For example, on the surface, African Americans received citizenship, desegregation, the right to vote without ridiculous roadblocks, and the ability to have a better life. I will agree that some of these things are true. These efforts truly did help mobilize African Americans, but there are still many issues: most blacks are still limited to the ghettos, there is an overrepresentation of minorities in prisons with legislation that seems to target certain areas of the population, constant killings by police officers of unarmed black men, women, and children, and as a whole minorities are viewed as criminals, savages, and outsiders. This is a hot topic of debate in America, and there will be different perspectives based on who you ask.

The truth is, I don’t know that there is an answer to truly solve the tensions between the different racial/religious groups. While the basis for the hate is different, the fact remains that there is an issue with regulating groups with different values than the majority. Dependent on who you ask, you will get a different answer as to why the tension exists and the success of so called peace agreements.

I am really enjoying this class and learning about real issues affecting Israel. I look forward to more relevant hot topics and thought-provoking questions.