- - Saturday, August 15, 2015

Part 2 of 3

Once you understand that neither side is the “villain” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it gets more complicated to analyze what is happening.
Here are 5 things “Pirates of the Caribbean” can teach us about the way the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being fought.

• The “Pirates” are Disney movies. So Jack and Will are not going to both get Elizabeth — no matter how much I, or Elizabeth, or the rest of the world wants it. Yes, in theory, Israel and Palestine can share. We’re in the era of open relationships anyway. But realistically speaking, religion is the driving factor in the Middle East. It is hard for us to understand how important religion is to them because it’s not that important to us, but both parties want completely different things to be done with the same pieces of land, the same people and the same government.
Honestly, everyone has stopped talking about compromises and the peace process. Everyone has forgotten why the conflict started in the first place. Several prominent Israelis stated off record that the entire “peace” process is a charade meant to assuage foreign governments. Neither Palestine nor Israel expects anything to come from it.

• We expect Jack to behave badly. Will is required to be perfect.
Neither Hamas/Palestine nor Israel is cooperating with the Gaza Inquiry, for example, and the recent U.N. report chided both sides for breaking international law. But we’re all focused on Israel not doing enough.
This is a bigger problem when you realize that there’s no question who the better guy is. Daniel Reisner and David Benjamin, both Israeli international lawyers who worry about Israel’s record, talked extensively about Israel’s efforts. Israel dropped 2.5 million leaflets in the last war to warn civilians and they called every Palestinian home to warn them. They dropped fake bombs on rooftops to encourage any civilians left to run before they attacked. The Supreme Court of Israel hears direct cases all the time, sometimes preventing military action it feels to be unlawful. If Israel played the same game Hamas is and brought them to the International Criminal Court, Hamas would lose badly. They are a terrorist organization, after all.

• There is no incentive to fight fairly. When Will says he would have killed Jack if they had fought fairly, Jack says, “That’s not much incentive for me to fight fair, then, is it?” This is the problem (the big problem) with Hamas. Hamas fights behind civilian shields, breaking basic international law and sending rockets from civilian homes.
I met with Yael Raz-Lachiani, a woman living in Nahal Oz, so close to Gaza that we could hear the calls to prayer from the other side. She talked about how Israel decided not to bomb a civilian home in Gaza that was sending bombs to her kibbutz, because the Israeli army didn’t have the phone number to warn the family. A boy ended up getting killed in her kibbutz as a result.
Don’t get me wrong. Israel is not perfect and many more Palestinian children do die every time they fight. But because Gaza is not a country and not held to the standards Israel is held to, they do get away with a lot of horrible things.

• Kissing (up to) Jack or Palestine is a bad idea. Look, I get that it’s really, really cool to be a part of campus movements that purport to support civil and human rights, but things like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) have to stop, because they are causing anti-Semitism. (It’s probably also super cool and super regrettable to kiss Captain Jack Sparrow, not to spoil anything else in the films.)
Israel has not done anything bad enough to deserve the kind of sanctions that BDS wants and BDS also challenges Israel’s legitimacy. Jews in Israel are a majority, but they act and feel like a minority as a result of the Jewish diaspora and the Holocaust. Trying to delegitimize Israel as a state is a huge problem that makes Jews want a state all the more.
New U.S. trade deals that halt boycotts of Israel would be a good idea. If and when Israel actually does something really horrible, the U.S. government should impose sanctions. We could sanction it for further settlements, for example, but that is not what BDS is about.

• You will regret leaving Jack to die. It doesn’t matter what happens throughout the “Pirates” franchise, if something happens to Jack, the other characters will – eventually – help him out. And they should. Huda al-Jack talked about how Palestinian growth is heavily dependent on funds received from Israel and the U.S., no matter how loath Palestinians are to admit it. If the U.S. or Israel stopped funding the West Bank, as some threaten, Palestinians will have fewer jobs and less hope. Left on its own, the West Bank might become like Gaza: a breeding ground for terrorism. It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that regardless of how negotiations go, Israel and the U.S. continue to support Palestinian stability.

Because the conflict is so complicated, it’s easy to see why there’s no good solution.

Read Part 1 of the series. The final installment, “At the Conflict’s End,” will offer the way out of the war.

Isvari Mohan is the author of the war drama, “The Eyes of Mikra,” a singer and a Global Law Scholar at Georgetown Law.

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