Too often our pundits have written and spoken of the situation in Palestine/Israel as a conflict between equals — commonly with the implied claim that this conflict is a “cycle of violence.” This involves what may be called “the Mantra of Equivalence,” suggesting that both sides suffer equally and merit about equal moral censure. The group of Episcopalians just formed seems to accept this as a true account of things. But of course many facts on the ground would have to be different from what they are for this to meet any standard of reality.
Below is a list of alterations (not an exhaustive one) of the actual conditions in Palestine/Israel that would need to be made in order for this fake equivalence to carry the weight of truth.
1 The Palestinian Authority pursues a continuing program of annexing land from Israel; it settles its own Palestinian people (military bases and civilians) upon it in violation of international law and holds that land by arresting, firing at (often maiming or killing) individual Israelis of any age who come “too close” to the annexed territory’s border. (Gazan farmers in their fields, if they are deemed to have approached too close to the border with Israel, have been shot and killed by soldiers of the Israel Defense Force.)
2 Israeli workers, suffering under high unemployment because of the Palestinian authorities’ closing of their borders and overall strangle-hold of their economy, line up in the wee hours of the morning in cattle-shoots to get into Palestine on time for their jobs; some are arbitrarily insulted and/or denied permission to cross into Palestine on the whim of adolescent soldiers of the Palestinian army.
3 Because of commonly arbitrary delays at Palestinian-controlled check-points, pregnant Israeli women are forced to give birth at these checkpoints.
4 The Palestinian Authority demands (with US support) that in return for the establishment of an Israeli state, units of a (now non-existent) Palestinian army must be permanently based in a wide area of Israeli territory. (This would be the Palestinian equivalent of the Israeli Prime Minister’s ultimatum that, if ever a Palestinian state is established, then units of the Israeli Defense Force must be permanently based in the West-Bank.)
5 Armed Palestinians from the (now, of course, actually nonexistent) Palestinian army routinely enter Israeli homes by night and carry away Israeli children without either of their parents, detain them in prison, and subject them to harsh interrogation under accusation of stone-throwing.
6 Palestinians in their navy’s gunboats (now, of course, actually nonexistent) off the coast of Israel fire at Israeli fishermen when they attempt to ply their trade, even within universally recognized limits for off-shore fishing rights.
7 Palestinians receive up-to-date lethal weapons from the United States (paid for by a large part of the US’s annual gift to Israel of $3-billilon) for the purpose of controlling the Israeli population held under Palestinian rule.
8 Palestinians residing in settlements (colonies reserved for Arabs exclusively) established by force, illegally, on Israeli land routinely invade Israeli villages and uproot their crops and olive trees while soldiers of the (now of course nonexistent) Palestinian state — sent ostensibly to prevent violence — either look on with calm indifference or arrest Israeli villagers for “rioting.”
9 Palestinian soldiers fire rubber bullets, tear gas, and live ammunition at peaceful, unarmed Israeli demonstrators. (This would be the equivalent of Israel Defense Force units’ actions [supported by IDF Military Order 101] against peaceful, unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in such villages as Bil’in and Nabi Saleh, killing some of them and severely wounding both villagers and international volunteers.)
10 The Palestinian government deports Israelis who establish Israeli centers for the study of nonviolence. (This would be the equivalent of Israel’s deportation of Mubarak Awad, a Palestinian activist, founder of the Palestinian Center for Nonviolence.)
11 The Palestinian State rejects the idea of a proposed Israeli state — in reverse-equivalence of the clear and firm rejection by Israel’s leading Likud party of any possibility of an independent Palestinian state. (Likud’s rejection of a Palestinian state is made explicit in that Party’s charter. We may note by way of contrast that the 19th Palestinian Council  proclaimed its recognition of the State of Israel in its pre-1967 borders. We may also note that this item in Likud’s charter, unlike certain Arab nations’ leaders’ denunciation of Israel’s right to exist as a state, has not been reported by the US media, despite its strong significance for any plausibility of a two-state solution of the Palestine-Israel conflict.)
12 Jewish-Israeli prisoners incarcerated by Palestinian security authorities match the number of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons (5,318 as of June 2014).
13 The number of Israelis prisoners held in Palestinian jails without charge (currently zero) would match the number (363) of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel under “administrative detention.” (Israeli law provides for “administrative detention”; i.e., incarceration without charge, indictment, or trial — subject to indefinite extension.)
14 Palestinian officials respond to foreign criticism of their policies not by addressing the critique itself, but by accusing their critics of being anti-Palestinian — in equivalence with the Jewish-Israeli practice of responding to critiques of Israel’s policies not by addressing the critique itself, but with accusations of anti-Semitism.
15 Hamas rockets intentionally destroy Israeli infrastructure (e.g., water-systems, power-plants, schools) in equivalence with destruction wreaked intentionally upon Gaza’s infrastructure by Israel’s bombardment and shelling throughout several Israeli campaigns.
17 Palestinians spy on the US (in imitation of Israel’s spy Jonathan Pollard) or tap US officials’ cell phones (to imitate Israeli agents’ hacking Secretary John Kerry’s phone during Kerry’s conversations with Palestinian negotiators while he was en route to negotiate a truce between the two parties — these hackers gaining thereby for Israeli negotiators advanced information of Palestinian negotiators’ plans.
As I’ve noted above, this is only a partial list of changes required in order for us to apply with some honesty the Mantra of Equivalence.