The pursuit of “peace” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should mean much more than the cessation of violence. It should mean more than the locations of borders, ensuring security, the status of Jerusalem, the right of refugees to return, ending the Gaza blockade or Israel withdrawing from the West Bank. A lasting peace can only be established on the basis of justice for both peoples. This first requires understanding the collective consciousness of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians and the historical roots from which those perspectives have grown.
From the Israeli perspective, since declaring independence in May 1948, Israel has fought six wars, two intifadas, the omnipresent threat of terrorism, and the possibility of nuclear war, all in the name of self-defense against enemies intent on eliminating its existence. Today, a little over 6 million Israeli Jews see themselves entrenched in a militarily sophisticated but precarious fortress state surrounded by 320 million (mostly) hostile Muslims ready to attack should the opportunity arise.… Read the rest