Column: Peace and non-fiction

There has been a joke meandering its way through some of the smaller circles here at GW, and since it is a new year, it only seemed fair that everyone have a chance to hear it. Are you ready? Here it goes.

What do you get when you transcend all streams of logic by trespassing into a closed military zone with a mob in order to protest a country’s right to defend itself? Hold on, you’re going to love this. Are you sure you’re ready? You get arrested.

Get it? It is a joke, but as one GW law student found out over the summer, its level of humor is up for debate. In the true versatility of good fiction, this joke has also been told as a story, the veracity of which, especially its actual violent content, remains entirely unsubstantiated. So for some, it will be a bedtime fable about the phantasmagoric spirit of resistance; but for most, it will be nothing more than a joke. It depends on which side of the fence you stand. In this case, it is Israel’s security fence.

Unless you’ve been living in a hole, you’ve probably heard that Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East – is building a fence to safeguard its citizens against suicide bombers. Yes, the audacity of those heartless Israelis.

What you likely won’t hear about is how the fence has saved scores of civilian lives from a hail of suicide attacks. You also won’t hear that Israeli courts put forth a ruling to ensure that the route of the fence minimizes Palestinian hardships. And you certainly won’t hear that while 75 percent of Palestinians live below the poverty line now, before waves of suicide bombers were sent to murder Israelis, the Palestinian unemployment stood at an all-time low. Its GDP stood at an all-time high and its level of civility with Israel stood then unmatched.

So this begs the question, why not protest the terror instead of its deterrent? The poverty of the Palestinians rests on a cross of their own making, and who better to champion against poverty than Yasser Arafat, right? Arafat, who has million-dollar homes around the world and a wife living the high life in Paris while his own people starve. Arafat, whose interference in curbing terrorism has compelled the only two Palestinian prime ministers to offer resignations. Arafat, who publicly sided with Iraq in the first Gulf War.

So if there is no honest Palestinian broker for peace or champion against poverty, why not protest for that? The security fence is a reality growing directly from the inability of Palestinian leadership to stop terrorism as it promised it would before the world on the lawn of the White House Rose Garden in 1993. So why not protest for peace?

Are Gandhi and Martin Luther King not better paradigms of resistance than Yasser Arafat? Civil disobedience certainly appears to be a better medium than to face arrest for breaching a military zone. What were these protesters expecting, a cookie shower? Would an American protester not expect to be arrested first as a foreigner in the greatest immediate danger?

This joke did not cause many laughs; in fact, some cried from the same tear gas police used to disperse the mobs after the last Lakers championship. This seems fitting, because only in L.A. can one get ahead for having a story that no one else has accounted for.

And while we may laugh now as the Lakers cry, it’s the Palestinians who must learn that the biggest games are not always won by accurate shooting, but by passing, logic, and of course, a great de-fence. That, and not invading a military zone with a mob.

And despite a personal predilection for trite basketball analogies, I am not nearly pretentious enough to claim to have a solution to the conflict. But I do know that fostering trust in a peace process is not achieved through terror. Likewise, I know that while a fence can always be torn down, a family shattered by terrorism cannot be pieced back together. These are the true lessons of real tragedy.

-The writer is a senior majoring in English.

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