This article and the news surrounding the events it described has me very concerned. For some reason, the vision of Palestinian people (not terrorist) leaving their camps to try to break down the border to Israel and take back what they believe is their land hit me hard. Most of these camps were started in 1948 some 63 years ago. Those born soon after the camps were established are now grandparents and they have never been to Palestine. And many have never even held a job because they have not been allowed to integrate into the actual countries in which they were born. The fact that these camps exists is a demonstration of the failure of all concerned parties. It is certainly a failure of Arab counties to show compassion for their own people. But is also a failure of Israel although I frankly do not know how Israel could have changed this situation other than just disappearing. I can imagine how these poor people feel. They believe that their homeland was stolen by the Jews. They do not really know that Jews have lived in Israel continuously. They do not understand that many of the Jews that live in Israel once lived in Arab countries and were forced out. They only see (and they do see because they can get Israeli television) a European country now located on what they believe is their own homeland.
It is ironic that the social network they used to organize their attack on the Israeli border, Facebook, was created by a Jew, Mark Zuckerberg. In fact so many of the individuals that created FB were/are Jewish. In addition to Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz and Eduardo Saverin, most of the early investors were Jewish including Peter Thiel and Mitch Kapor. Many of the senior management of Facebook are Jewish including Sheryl Sandberg, the COO. And at least half of the board is Jewish as far as I can tell.
Why am I sad? I am sad that so many Palestinians suffer. I am scared because tyrannical governments like Syria are now utilizing social networks and the power of the Internet not to improve the lives of their people and especially not to improve the lives of the Palestinian people, but to help organize attacks on Israel and to focus the world on Israeli behavior. Unfortunately, 15 people were killed by Israeli defense forces when they tried to bridge the border with Syria. Frankly, it was so unexpected that the situation many not have been handled well. I am sure so many will be outraged by this. But where is the outrage when Syria kills 100s a day of their own people? What about the mass grave just found? What does the Arab League have to say about this? I have to wonder what would have happened if 100s of Mexicans and rushed the border with Texas trying to enter that state and claiming it was their homeland.
Today, I read an op ed in the NYT by the chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas. He is calling for the UN to recognize Palestine as a state. I will not get into the validity of this approach here. But in his op ed, he blames everything that happened in 1948 on the Jews. There is not single mention of the attacks on the Jewish state by it Arab neighbors or the call by Palestinian leaders for the Palestinian people to leave their villages. Things will never get better if we can not understand that bad things happened on both sides and forgive each other for actions that were taken some 63 years ago.
Palestinians may one day realize they have much more in common with the Israeli’s than they have with their Arab neighbors. And Israel, of course, should respect the desire of Palestinians to have their own country and help them achieve that. Perhaps, Social Networks like Facebook can play a role in making that happen.