Gary Storm on Author Mark Braverman
Hello, my name is Gary Storm. I am a resident of Urbana and a member of the Urbana-Champaign Peace Initiative. Most serious commentators on Middle Eastern affairs have long recognized that unresolved tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians over land inhabited by the Palestinians when the state of Israel was created by the United Nations in 1947 is the most likely source of wider conflict in the area. Mark Braverman is a Jewish American scholar who discusses these tensions and their causes in his book, Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land. In the book, Braverman argues forcefully that there is nothing inconsistent about supporting a national homeland for the Jews while at the same time criticizing the Israeli government's policies regarding the occupation of Palestine. Nor is such criticism anti-Semitic. As a Jew himself, Braverman criticizes the injustices of the occupation and calls for an end to settlement building and to extensions of the separation wall, armed military checkpoints and Israeli-only roads that have imposed such immense hardships on the daily lives of Palestinians living in the West Bank. He also calls for removal of the blockade of Gaza. Personally, I concur with all of these positions. I also concur with Braverman in his belief that these hardships have fueled widespread frustration, resentment and anger among Palestinians and their sympathizers throughout the Arab world, factors that have led the most radical among them to resort to violence. In short, we believe that it is not Israel's demand for a national homeland but its brutal occupation of Palestine and its expansionist colonial policies there which stand in the way of peace in the region. This view is supported by the fact that, in polls, most Palestinians and Arabs-at-large are prepared to recognize Israel's right to exist in exchange for an end to the occupation and reasonable compensation for injustices imposed by Israel upon Palestinians since its founding in 1947. In Fatal Embrace, Braverman calls for Christians, Jews and others to examine their moral commitment to social justice and human rights everywhere, including Palestine, and to act on their consciences to craft and/or support agreements that will end the Israeli occupation and bring peace and security to the region. Please consider attending one of several local presentations that Braverman will make next week, including one at the Champaign Public Library on Friday February 10th at 7:00 p.m. There will be plenty of time for discussion after the presentation. Many points of view on this long standing conflict need to be expressed and, hopefully, reconciled.