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Suddenly Everyone Cares About Israel and Palestine

It takes a long time, they say, to be an overnight success. By any standard, the conflict between the Israaelis and the Palestinians seems to suddenly fit this criteria: protests in the streets, Instagram is overrun with delightfully uninformed and wonderfully polarized opinions; the Onion is running parody stories (some of which are quite funny.) Someone’s been quite successful at getting a sudden wave of attention, and by and large it seems like the Palestinian side is getting the bulk of the sympathy.

The conflict, of course, has been ongoing for decades. More or less since the founding of the modern Israeli in 1965. (Or course the Israeli and Jewish community would argue that Israel has existed for over 2,000 years, an argument I’m not really willing to engage in largely due to its futility.)

Since then, voters in the US and Canada have reliably turned up to vote for governments that don’t just vocally but actively support Israel. Millions of dollars of weapons sales bring in revenue and create a significant power imbalance vis a vis the Palestinians. The United States in particular, it must be said, is a pro-Israeli state from a political stance.

So I’m not convinced the current wave of protests in support of Palestine isn’t just an example of mob rule online: we’ve seen it a thousand times of course–trend starts, people jump on with opinions based on what they’ve read in a few posts, communities polarize around a nuanced complex issue based on 30 second sound bites. Welcome to the modern world.

The problem, of course, is this doesn’t get us closer to solutions. Israel and Palestine have been fighting for decades and for just as many decades the “two state” solution has been suggested, but no progress seems to have been made. In the process the radical solution of treating other people as equals, even if their religious beliefs disagree with ours, seems to have fallen off the radar.

Shame, that one. I wonder what we’ll be arguing about next month online?

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