Josh May's letter "Palestinians want more than a just peace" (3-22-02) ruined my day.
I have read May's uninformed rants elsewhere and he continues to be a self-appointed spokesperson for the Israeli military.
But more than that, he continues to believe that he has some special access into that collective Palestinian mind and that because of his perceptiveness (or maybe because he is a law student), he is the official translator and conveyor of all the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
He always discusses what the Palestinians want, but never seems to ask them himself.
I have exchanged e-mails with Josh May and he is yet to take me up on the offer to meet and talk about the issues. He prefers his one-man conjecture campaign to actually hearing what the Palestinians want from a Palestinian.
And this comes out in his writing, which emphasizes Israel's fears and insecurities as if the Palestinians have none.
For May, Arafat is there to “control his own people” because the Palestinians are not really people deserving of meaningful independence or livelihood.
They are units who should only exist in such a form that makes Israelis feel nice and warm inside. They are not to rebel and protest Israel's suffocating military occupation and insidious settlements or the fact that Israelis now live in the homes the Palestinians were dispossessed from.
They are not to lament Al-Nakba (the catastrophe), or what Israelis call their Independence Day.
May would prefer they lose their memory and resign to living where and how it best suits Israel's “Defense” Forces and right-wing President.
As a law student, May should know it is not that simple. There is a concept ostensibly central to his field of law that never shows up in his writing: justice. He also conveniently never mentions international law, as if its application would not mean the right of return for refugees (UN Res. 194) and Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza (UN Res. 242).
Though Palestinians consistently refer to the need for justice, he never talks about it. He prefers his baby, the morally irrelevant and singular conception of “security.”
If you read carefully, he uses “peace” and “security” interchangeably as if they are synonyms.
Unfortunately, they are not only different, but often at odds when one group's "security" means the oppression of another group. Why don't Palestinians also deserve security?
After all, they are subject to much more danger and political violence than the Israelis are.
It may be blas, but a quote from the great Martin Luther King Jr. shows why May's conception of peace will get us nowhere fast. King said “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of
Boalt Hall Law Student