Perspectives-Winter 2022-1

I have many friends, family, and acquaintances—all of whom, I am quite confident, are deeply caring people who aspire to peace and justice. They are horrified when people are taken hostage or killed at a Jewish synagogue. Yet many of those same people support the far, far more massive violence and imprisonment that Israel inflicts on Palestinian men, women, and children. Why would good people support this mistreatment of Palestinian families? Surely it is because those good people don’t believe it is mistreatment. I’m sure those good people want, deeply want, peace and justice for all people. Yet, because they hold misconceptions about Palestinian people (and, perhaps, Arabs and/or Muslims in general), they believe that Israel is justified in all her actions. They believe that Palestinians force Israel to behave the way it does. In speaking to a close family friend who was decrying Palestinian rockets (that hurt few) and who was supporting Israel’s massive violent response (that killed many), I explained that Israel’s actions no longer seemed to have the moral high ground after I learned Jewish forces expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families from their homes and villages and made those families refugees in 1948. The close family friend said that that is impossible, that that could not have happened. In a conversation with a professional acquaintance, I mentioned the expulsions, and the acquaintance said, no, that’s impossible; that isn’t what happened, and that Jews never looted, raped, or even behaved in a disrespectful manner to Arabs. I used to think as those people did. But that thinking quickly evolved after learning things they didn’t teach me in Hebrew school about how entire villages of Palestinian families became refugees. Much of that information is cataloged in our museum website. And more information continues to accrue. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently described previously classified documents of Israeli cabinet meetings that revealed the massacres of Palestinians, the acts of murder committed by Israeli troops during the War of Independence, and what Israeli leaders knew about them. (You can read the details in Haaretz.com.) I could speculate about whether such documents are being kept classified to keep people unaware, but that would be pure speculation. What is more important is that we understand what happened. Making and keeping any family refugees from their homes is inconsistent with Jewish (and anyone else’s) moral values. Peace, justice, and security is possible; but not by making and keeping other people refugees from their homes—and certainly not by inflicting even more violence on those refugee families. _________________________________________________ Understanding What Happened to Palestinians What is more important is that we understand what happened. Making and keeping any family refugees from their homes is inconsistent with Jewish (and anyone else’s) moral values. DR. STEVEN FELDMAN is a U.S.-based dermatologist and Curator of the Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience. WINTER 2022 15

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