If you take Line 38 in San Francisco at Geary and Laguna everyday, you are probably an avid Israel and Judaism supporter. You have to be. You believe it is a free democracy where women and minorities can vote, where the Isreali Palestinian issue is only a political conflict unlike the holocaust. It is the promised land endorsed by JFK and Ronald Reagan, diverse, caring, proud, progressive.
Line 38, the PR(opaganda) stop.
Ever since I can remember living in the neighborhood, this bus stop has been displaying nothing but a Blue Star PR
material. Although I have personal ties to Israel and lived there for 6 years, I can't express how unfair and damaging this aggressive advertising is. Israel and the conflict surrounding it is much more complex than a dozen of slogans.
This one boasts: "Where in the middle east Arab women can vote? - In Israel." Elections are indeed the topic in Israel and Palestine, nowadays. January 9th 2005 is set to be an election day for the new PA leadership... Speculations run wild as to the future of the Israeli Palestinian dispute. Yassir Arafat, branded by both US and Israel as an unfit negotiation partner, is dead and seemingly the road is clear for a new leadership to emerge. Who ends up being the new elect will shed some light on the true intentions of the majority of Palestinians. There are fears that without the unifying influence of the iconic figure of Arafat, the separate factions, from moderates to extremists will be drawn into internal conflict and infighting. Clearly however, if the Palestinian people are allowed to vote freely - their choice on January 9th will indicate the degree of their pacifist intentions. First and only Palestinian election were held in 1996, Arafat held on to his post for additional unmandated 4 years. His character and motives have been called into question on many occasions, as has been that of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli PM. The hate and mistrust pervade. By now, after decades of conflict it is impossible to pick out the single threads of events and trace a single line of guilt and responsibility. Among the opinions out there I choose to quote two which I think are insightful and prejudice free:
"Most Palestinians, myself included, have mixed feelings about Arafat. Although he has failed as a statesman to build the democratic institution we all hoped he would when he returned following Oslo, he will always be credited for putting the Palestinian cause firmly on the international agenda. I hope there will be free elections in the occupied territories in the coming few months and a leadership is elected that is representative of all Palestinians."
Sami Joulani, London , United Kingdom.
"Arafat did not make the old Middle East. His death won't make a new one. He became Israel's partner because Yitzhak Rabin created the circumstances for this through generosity of spirit; an understanding of what a Palestinian leader needed to make peace and an iron resolve to ensure Israel's security through peace. Peace for the region died when Rabin was murdered. It will not come again until Israel's leaders can once again grasp the legacy made vacant by Amir's hand."
Michael Feinstein, Johannesburg, South Africa.