Promised Land: Between Utopia and Reality*
by Iqra Anugrah**
Utopia, whatever its form, always bring disaster to humanity. The ideas of “perfect human being”, “chosen people” or “promised land” are merely a way to bring totalitarian tendencies into power. History has shown us tragedies of political utopia, starts from Holocaust to Jerusalem.
Hamas launches its rockets to Israel. Israel strikes back with advanced military power. Thousand of peoples dead, Jerusalem remains bloody and peace seems impossible in Middle East
The very first question of this conflict is in what way we see it. I personally believe that this longing conflict has something to do with colonialism (or post-colonialism). One thing that Israel and Western power ignore is the mentality of colonized nations. Every effort from colonized nations to defend their freedom, whether it is right or wrong, has a moral reason. Violence is wrong, but that is the best weapon of the weak to defend their rights. Therefore, what Hamas or other Palestinian militias did should be seen not only as an attack to Israel, but also as a part of struggle for recognition. Holocaust is definitely a catastrophe, but can it be a reason to wipe out a group of people that already existed? Can we call a state with hidden racism in its values and institutions ‘democratic’? Palestinian people absolutely have a right to exist, to build their own state, and this is exactly what Israel and its Western supporters forget.
Other things that make the situation worse are internal conflict of Palestine and the weak position of Islamic world. It is a fact that Fatah is too corrupted and Hamas is too fundamentalist. This condition becomes worse by the absence of a figure that can unite Palestinian people after Yasser Arafat. Islamic world, especially Middle East does not have a strong position in global politics in order to be involved in bargaining over Palestinian issues. Post-colonialism, late modernization, spreading fundamentalism and internal conflicts such as Lebanon and Iraq has led to the incompetence of Islamic world to negotiate their interests.
The solution of this problem is back to the reality. Israel and Western powers have to leave hawkish approaches to deal with Palestine. They have to start to recognize current Palestinian administration and Hamas which have legitimate authority based on popular vote. Hamas also has to leave violence and go back to diplomacy. Palestinian people have to unite and forget the differences among them, Islamic world has to leave old fashion way to deal with this issue and Jerusalem should be declared as international city. Only by mutual understanding, peace in Middle East through two-state solution can be achieved.
Back to the reality means rejecting utopia, and accepting human being in the frame of humanity. Human is not an angel. He is kicked out from the heaven, condemned to be free, as Sartre said, in order to fulfill his meanings of life. He often makes mistakes, but we have to believe that he can learn from his mistakes to achieve his humanity.
*Published by The APU Times Vol. X January 2009, an independent student newspaper of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)
**2nd year student of College of Asia Pacific Studies (APS), Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)