November 25, 2010 Jewish Narrative/ Palestinian Narrative

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

November 25, 2010 Jewish Narrative/ Palestinian Narrative

Its been a quiet week, in terms of news from Israel, with the status of the proposed settlement freeze engulfed in a strange fog of the unknown. The US administration has had other more immediate foreign policy challenges this past week. Between the artillery attack by North Korea and unveiling of the supposed Taliban emissary in Afghanistan as a fraud, the question of whether another foundation gets laid in the town of Ariel may not seem all that important to the Obama administration. Ultimately, whether there is peace or not between Israel and the Palestinians is a greater need for Israel than it is to America.

For Israelis, however, the recent report by the Palestinian Authority that Jews do not have a connection to the Western Wall, is another warning sign that those of us, (I count myself as one of them) who try to be optimistic that a peace agreement might be reached are just fooling themselves. While the document may seem minor, in the scheme of things, it was partially this issue that blew up the Camp David Talks in 2000– Arafat's refusal to agree that the Jews have any rights at all to the Temple Mount. This goes to the very core of the conflict and the conflicting narratives between Jews and Arabs.

The Jewish narrative says that Jews returned to the Land of Israel, their ancient homeland, where there has been continuous Jewish settlement, albeit small, for thousands of years. The Jewish narrative goes on and says that the Jewish settlers found a land that, while it had some native population, was primarily neglected-with large sections of the country available for settlement.

The Palestinian narrative says that the Jews have no historic connection to the land of Israel. They allege the Jews were merely European colonists who forced the Palestinians living in their version of "milk and honey" off their land at gunpoint. The problem is that for the past 20 years, most Israelis have been willing to accept that fact that there might have been more Palestinians living in the Land of Israel than early Zionist believed and that these Palestinians have some rights to land.

The Palestinians, however, have not been willing to accept any part of the Jewish narrative. That is why although bringing up the issue of Israel being a Jewish state is a misguided propoganda step at this stage of the negotiations, it must be an essential part of a final agreement. The UN got it right in 1947 when it partitioned Palestine into two states: a Jewish state and an Arab State- whoever wants peace needs to accept that original premise if there is to be peace.

The Israeli news these past few days has been dominated by the story of the claims against Uri Bar Lev. Until the charges were brought Bar Lev was a candidate for Israel’s next police commander. Two different women have filed charges against him, one with charges of rape and the second with charges of sexual harassment. The TV has been filled with images of Bar Lev arriving for interrogation and taking lie detetctor tests. At the same time his supporters claim his innocence. Tonight the person who accused him of sexual harrasment outed herself in a speech covered live on Israeli TV. She is a noted women's activist, with a PhD. According to sources, her account of the events is believed by the police. 

Two other domestic matters have taken place in the last few days. The first a bill that was sponsored by MK across the political spectrum was defeated by the coalition because of Shas’s opposition. The bill would have required girls who ask to be exempted from the military of religious grounds, bring proof that they are indeed religious. Shas objected and the coaltion folded. It is believed that 4,000 girls a year lie about being religioius to get out of army service All together 33% of the girls are exempted each year based on the religious exemption.

The saga of Rabbi/MK Amselem from Shas continues. He has refused the demands of the Shas leadership to return his parliament seat a resign, instead taking the offensive attacking the Shas leadership for misunderstanding Sephardic tradition and the roll of religion in a Jewish state. Today’s issue of the Shas newspaper called for Amselem be wiped out like amalike. The Knesset has assigned full time security to Rabbi Amslelem

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