Occupation Has No Religion
The Palestinian struggle is about occupation, human rights, freedom and justice; it is not a religious conflict against Judaism and must not become one
Amid the jump in religious discourse in Israeli politics and speech, we wonder as Palestinians: Since when has our struggle become one against Judaism rather than the Israeli occupation and Zionist project, which aim to cleanse us from our homeland?
The attempt to convert the conflict between Palestinians and the Zionist project into a religious conflict is filled with great danger. It could fuel flames around the world rather than help find a solution based on a political process, making Israel’s aim of being a democratic state become but a dream.
If Israel continues its occupation against the Palestinian people, it cannot be viewed as a democratic country. Therefore, it is in Israel’s interest to return to the two-state solution, which sees neighboring countries living in peace based on international resolutions and law.
The Palestinian leadership has made it clear over and over that the only way toward peace is the two-state solution. It is what has guided all previous negotiations. Any attempt to reach a religious or historical solution will complicate the scene even more, as each side has its own unique narrative.
Both sides need a political solution based on international law that prevents bloodshed.
Religious discourse is employed by right-wing parties in Israel to impose unjust Israeli policies against the Palestinians in contradiction to international law. The escalation of such discourse has to do with major concerns over Israel’s decline in international reputation.
There are several factors behind this decline. The most important is the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, especially on social media. In addition, there is the December announcement by the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Decisions and policies against the Palestinian people by the current US administration were crowned recently by its “peace” plan for the Middle East. That plan has helped us indirectly, as it increases support by international activists and human rights advocates for the Palestinian cause. This support is for the sake of justice and freedom, as our case is just.
Extremist leaders who attempted in the past to evade international law under the cover of religious interpretations according to their own beliefs and points of view have not brought peace to the region. Israel cannot maintain the image of a democratic state forced to defend its people only militarily.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict faces two paths: war and blood, or peace based on international law and the two-state solution. The more religious people stoke the embers and attempt to escape international opprobrium, the more destruction we will find in the region. Not peace.