2016-03-29 – Some folks in Zionist circles talk about the Palestinian people being a made-up nationality. These people see Israel as occupying a tiny sliver of the Middle East that is otherwise occupied by Arabs. If Palestinians don’t have an identity that is tied to the land, then they should easily be absorbed into the vast Arab lands.
It was an attractive notion—until the Palestinians began to fight under the Palestinian flag.
I am not trying to cast the Palestinians as a blameless victim people here. Palestinians and Israelis have been miserable to each other since before I was born. I believe that Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace in the land. But I also believe that it’s never going to happen as long as they are invisible to one another. Palestinians deny Israel. Israel denies Palestine. It’s a failed strategy. But you can’t even see the failure if you can’t see the person on the other side.
This type of blindness is not limited to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. It happens right here in the United States.
Former slaves were invisible in this country from the end of the Civil War until the 1950s. The great achievement of the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties was to make African Americans visible—at least in some spheres. No progress was possible until our eyes were opened.
Unfortunately, while African Americans are visible in media and down town, they remain invisible in neighborhoods. Native Americans and gays have also been invisible. Only when light is shined upon them does society advance.
White working class Americans are a group that lives on the edge of invisibility. Democrats once championed them, but they became invisible with the destruction of the labor movement in this country. Only when pitted against African Americans are they seen.
Donald Trump has now made them visible.
And this is the risk. By not acknowledging an entire people, by imagining that they don’t exist, we leave the unspoken conflicts for demagogues to exploit.
I hope it’s not too late to open our eyes so that we can begin to start solving problems, rather than sweeping them under the rug.