This comes up so much that one really should do a search and read all the good info in old threads before pontificating. Americans REALLY like conflicts to fall into neat categories of good guys and bad guys, but it just doesn’t apply in this situation (or most for that matter).
Palestinians and Israelis are human beings, good, but fallen. At the overall population level, neither one of them are devils disguised as people. Please remember that FIRST.
But I strongly believe that there are drastic differences in the quality of leadership in the two groups. The Israelie leadership at times is inclined to exploitation and oppression, no doubt. That’s the fallen part of the human equation, especially in conflicts. But let’s face it, they have all the guns and ammo they’d need to utterly exterminate every last Palestinian - and they haven’t. The Palestinian leadership in the last 70 years has been abysmal. They’ve been utterly focused on themselves and their own personal power, prestige and pride and, it seems to me, NOT so interested in getting the best deal possible for their people. I have very little doubt that if the situations were suddenly reversed and Hamas and the PLO had all the guns and ammo and a few nukes the situation for Jews would be a LOT worse than the current situation for Palestinians.
America reacted rather harshly when we were attacked by terrorists on 9/11. That terrible day is something Israelis have lived with constantly since the day of their indepence sooner after WWII. So in spite of their serious shortcomings and failures of justice, I am reluctant to blanket condemn the Israelis and take the Palestinian side. With the exception of a noisy minority of ultra-orthodox that constantly try to encroach on Palestinian land, the majority of Israelis would JUMP at the chance of a serious proposal for long term peace in the region. If the Palestinian leadership abandoned their STATED goals of wiping Israel out and started to ACT like they’ve actually changed in that direction, the Israeli populace would elect leaders that would accept it within 15 years. But Palestinian leaders won’t do that because of their warped sense of pride and vengeance that will settle for nothing less than domination. This sick value system results in their them instead proclaiming the virtue of suicide bombings and the sending of teenage kids with rocks against Israeli soldiers instead of having the guts to go themselves.
For all the over-reaction of the Israelis, the Palestinian leadership is still far worse, IMO. If they could just produce a Ghandi, they could build a real peace in that part of the world. On the other hand, if a Palestinian Ghandi arose, I suspect that Hamas would just kill him (or even some of the militant Zionist groups). Such is fallen man.