Philip Copeman

Author and Activist

Bombing children in Israel and Palestine

My mind is still on this Israeli Palestinian thing. I get bombarded from both sides on my facebook page which is linked to friends in both groups.

The solution is obvious - try something different.

Let me give you the experience of Africa where I belong to the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, where it is our mission statement to unite Africa under one President. In Africa we have 2000 different languages, each with its own culture, many of them with bigger population groups than Israel or Palestine. How far would we go if we tried to impose the culture of any one of those groups on the others? Israelis give up the idea of a "Jewish State" and Muzlims give up the idea of not letting Jews be Jews. Sharia Law? Its out of the question.

In a world where the likelihood of God even existing is extremely doubtful, it just doesn't make sense that you can set up a state based on a fairy story, where people have different rights depending on the names that they give to the different fairies. And Muslims just because you have a different version of the same story, doesn't mean that your fairies are any more real than Jewish fairies. If a Billion people say that fairies exist, it still doesn't make them real.

A secular state doesn't mean that you can't practice religion, the right to practice religion is enshrined in a secular constitution, it simply means you cannot predjudice anyone else from practicing theirs. Most particularly you can't force your culture onto others such as atheists and homosexuals and you can't force religion onto children, especially other people's children.

It is not for foreigners to tell you how to run your country, but Palestinians and Israelis, from outside it sure looks ridiculous to call those little patches of land separate "countries". On Google Maps does it look like Baphutatswana? - you bet it does.

The road to peace is secular tolerance, where the law is blind to belief. The killer-blow that Jews can deliver to the war mongerers is to renounce the idea of the "Jewish State". If Israel was as equal a place for Jews as it was for Palestinians, very quickly, Palestinians would adopt Israel as their home state. They are forced into the camp of the Islamic extremists by the Israelis, not by the extremists. The Palestinians would overnight become the Jews greatest allies against extremism, not their enemies.

The concept that you have to hate someone of a different religion is ridiculous. We have Millions of Muslims here in Africa. I have been an Atheist for over 40 years (from the moment I could think for myself). Many of my friends are Muslims and Jews. I lived with a Muslim woman for two years. I have made my whole business life out of working with Jews. For 20 years I played in the Jewish Guild Orchestra. I can challenge any Jew to a bout of Kletzmer (Except Izak Pearlman). My mothers family was Jewish. I sent my daughter to a Hebrew School to learn Judaism.  I don't have any inborn problem with any of these religions, but I do stand for my right to dismiss their Gods. Either way it is no reason to bomb children. Read them your fairy stories by all means, but spare them the violence. How can religious dogma possibly have been allowed to degrade humanity to this?

Here is what we can do as Africans:

If these middle east war mongerers can't live together, let us show them that at least we Africans can reach out to each other and that their poisonous ideas can't infect us.

1) Join in solidarity, first the African Jews and African Muzlims, with the other Billion of us (The guys who offer you both a predjudice free African lifestyle) and make a joint statement of neutrality on Israel and Palestine.

2) Urge Egypt not to get embroiled in Middle East Politics, but rather to turn its attention South to an African union that will benefit the whole African continent.

3) Call for  peace and a move towards a just and non violent Israel/Palestine.

4) Stop distributing the war mongering propoganda that keeps comming from both sides.

5) Put our attention into uplifting Africa's poor, many of whom have a far harder life than Israel or Palestine.

Get those African Rabbis and Imams together and lets make a deal.  What is so difficult about bringing a little peace to the world?

Philip Copeman
I dedicate this peace proposal to the memory of Theo Mabusela.

Views: 32

Comment by Philip Copeman on November 21, 2012 at 7:02pm

 I have read many of the links you have sent me and am closer to understanding your problem. I think that in terms of Israel, follow Maya Wind, , an Israeli activist jailed for refusing the draft in Israel. When you live inside a military state it is very difficult to understand the solution that I am talking about. The “kickback” that you would get from your own people means that from inside one of the aggressive pareties, it becomes extremely difficult to follow a path towards peace. Everytime a bomb explodes the sound of reason gets drowned out.

Let me rather tell you about my story in South Africa:

In 1980 we also lived in a military society in South Africa. All white males were forced to undergo conscripted military service. The pressure to duck this was unbearable. English speaking white children had the luxury of discussing dissent with their parents, but only in hushed tones, lest it shamed them with their peers. Young Afrikaners were not even afforded the chance of discussion. Shortly I found myself inside the military machine. There was no going over to black people and explaining to them that you didn't really feel anything against them. Any sympathy for black people was treated as weakness or even treason. It was a brutal system that effects most of us to this day.

However by the early eighties I had come round to the decision to change sides. I often found myself in the company of black people in situations where I simply would not meet any other white people. First the West Orlando golf Club and then black night clubs and townships, later the PAC. It was years before I met white people in any of these situations. Even today in the PAC I hardly ever meet white people. It takes a great deal of self confidence to step out of the comfort zone which is your own religious or racial group.

Any attempt to drive this integration was met by the harshest response from my own community, most particularly my own family. I was detained ams searched at airports, my phone was bugged, the pressure financially and emotionally effected all of us. Still I pushed on. My key contribution was to help young conscripts avoid military services (Many of them Jews by the way). None of this made me popular with my own group.

Through most of this time the consensus was similar to that of the Israeli situation. Most people wanted their own states and to continue living separately. There was even a strong case in the blacks for having separate states (Rather like Gaza and West Bank), but its all denial. Palestine can never be a separate state, the only long term peace is an integration into Israel. Races don't get more peaceful in separation, only integration brings familiarity and tolerance.

It was not in vain. That outreach from within the white community that gave more and more whites the confidence to make the change. I was able to make that first step alone. In the beginning resistance worked on a “cell basis” there was little to no contact with other white people. Very few white people were able to do that until numbers became abundant. Eventually that confidence became a wave. Today every white South African has a story about how they helped the liberation!

It takes a great deal of self confidence to be able to stand up to the people around you. It is much easier to agree with the consensus. It is wrong of me to expect that Israelis would simply be able to do that in a military society. Personally I don't believe that you have that level of self confidence, you may have top wait for the bravery of the Maya Winds. If only because in Maya Wind I recognise a young version of me, I can only admire her for having the courage to stand up to your military machine. Your part is to keep stamping out military propaganda. To you she is a traitor, to me she is a hero.


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