By Daniel Keebler
Special to WTN News
As an active supporter of the Tibetan people and their fight for freedom, I often have to work with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli, liberal, activists. My fellow Tibet supporters are baffled by my support for Israel: "How can you support Tibetan freedom (as my bumper sticker declares) and also support Israel who continues its occupation of Palestine."
The confusion arrives, as many conflicts do, when my fellow liberals and activists make assumptions on the word "occupation." To most liberals, occupation, no matter the reason or the results of, is completely unjustified and inhumane. There is little comparison between Israeli occupation, one mostly of politics and defense, and Chinese occupation, one of selfish gains for corrupt Chinese officials.
Under Chinese occupation, the Chinese communist government systematically rapes and tortures Tibetan prisoners for saying words like "autonomy" and "freedom." Monasteries in occupied-Tibet more resemble scenes from Orwell's 1984 than the Chinese-claimed "religious freedom." Justice in China involves court trials that are often held in secret with pre-determined sentences for Tibetans.
My fellow liberals see such atrocities in China's occupation. They then think, "Israel "occupies" the West Bank and Gaza. Therefore, Israel is just as evil and inhumane as China."
They somehow miss the fact that Palestinians exercise their freedom of speech (to the degree their leaders will allow) without fear of retribution from Israel. They somehow ignore the fact that Palestinians freely practice their religion at home and in organized gatherings. They somehow overlook the fact that Israeli courts often rule in favor of Palestinians. My fellow liberals will then point to the statistics of Palestinian poverty as proof that Israel too holds an evil occupation.
Palestinians are not living in poverty simply because of Israeli occupation. The Palestinian people's suffering stems from a lack of infrastructure from their so-called leaders, and by terrorist propaganda instilling endless cycles of hatred that dissolve the natural morality of Palestinian children.
Democratic Israel has no interest in keeping the Palestinian people in poverty. Who better to do business with than its direct neighbor! Yet what can Israel do but block Arafat and his terrorists from money they have failed to ever use for the betterment of the Palestinian people.
So I explain to my fellow liberals that the root of Palestinian poverty has been the dearth of leadership (an exiled Egyptian terrorist). I then explain to my fellow liberals and Tibetan supporters that Israeli occupation is mostly defensive.
It has become a known pattern that when Israeli troops "pullback" from a Palestinian city, Israeli citizens are struck by another suicide-bomber within days, if not hours. This fact of Palestinian-terrorist behavior has forced Israel to maintain military occupation.
Tibetans, however, have remained almost completely non-violent under Chinese occupation. Instead of fostering violent terrorists (as Arafat has), the Tibetan leader (the 14th Dalai Lama) fosters peaceful activists.
In the footsteps of Gandhi, and by the path of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama has traveled around the world preaching peace and non-violence, even receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. "But didn't Arafat win a Nobel Peace Prize too?"
Sure he did. And what great things he has done for his people since that monumental moment in 1994! Arafat had betrayed his people by repeatedly walking out of the peace process. He has betrayed them by inciting more violence through a tightly controlled media. And he continues to betray his people (and the Israelis) by directly supporting terrorists who wish to obliterate hope for peace in the Middle East.
Apparently a Peace Prize does not always come with the prize of peace as one might expect. Nor does "occupation" always come with "brutal oppression," as one might assume. Not to disregard the troubles both Palestinians and Tibetans are facing, but there is a distinction (I hope I have made clearer) between the occupations within the two holy lands.
Daniel Keebler is a grade 12 student at the Seattle Academy Group Leader, SFT Seattle Academy comments, questions, arguments - firstname.lastname@example.org