I am sorry we could not finish our conversation on Israel this morning. Admittedly, you caught me pre-caffeinated this morning and me having to rush off to work made it hard to have a meaningful conversation but I wanted to address the points you made on the rare chance you might find this website in your search for answers.
When you saw that I was reading “Should Israel Exist,” by Michael Curtis, you told me that you are “a Buddhist” and that your “teacher taught you that the Israelis stole the land from the Palestines (sic).” Your teacher also saw fit to inform you that the Israelis came in and stole the land and then the UN gave it to them.
I tried to parse the statements in the limited minutes between 14th street and Penn Station. “Who did Israel steal it from? The land was technically bought, we have the records,” I managed to stammer out.
“Well, they must have stolen it from someone. They didn’t belong there,” you replied.
As I said before walking off the train, apparently, you don’t even need to have a victim to have a crime and that perhaps you should do your own research instead of relying on a teacher. I hope I did not come across rudly because you gave me a very valuable gift.
As an Israeli activist, you made me realize I need to have an elevator pitch, an ability to reduce important points to 30 seconds or less. You gave me the elevator pitch of Palestinians, but I couldn’t do the same for you. That’s my problem and I intend to fix it.
I tried reducing it down to a few words, but there was so much to include. Israel has been home to indigenous Jews for thousands of years. That Israel has fought countless wars for its own existence. That Israel has offered enormous amounts of land and resources, negotiating with terrorists for the mere prospect of peace.
I realized quickly that as long as debates are framed by Israel having to justify its existence, the discussion was fruitless. No other country has to defend its sovereignty and I will no longer dignify such a response with an answer. If you can’t think of another country you want dismantled, you have no right to single out a thriving, functioning democratic ally of the country we live in.
So here is my response to you now that I have had my green tea caffeine infusion:
Israel’s existence is not debatable, just like any other sovereign country including the US. The country was legally founded by the UN. The land was not stolen and many Arab refugees fled. Till today, any steps to mitigate that have been rejected by Arab leaders. If you wish to have a discussion about policy, I am happy to do so, but please educate yourself.
The young lady in the pink sweater you spoke with today