So many people are so certain
I have nothing of meaningful substance to add to the conversation about the current flareup in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What astounds me is that so many people think that they do. So many are so sure of themselves.
That’s the meat of this particular blog post so please feel free to turn your attention elsewhere.
Israel-related blog posts
I like to search for Israel-related blog posts on WordPress.
I always ignore those that advertise hotels, medical treatments and other commercial nonsense. I also tend to avoid those that focus on reporting the news; on WordPress, I am looking for meaningful human connections.
Of late, I’ve also started skipping over the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian blog posts, of which dozens have popped up because of the current explosion in violence throughout Israel. Most of them lack nuance and don’t aspire to it; and whom are they being written for? Who is swayed by these self-styled political pundits?
Wouldn’t open dialogue be more productive?
What does ‘more productive’ mean?
By ‘more productive’, I mean – more likely to bring about peace in the long-term.
I know there is a ring of naiveté to this idea, but I don’t consider myself naïve. Rather, I would pose a question to those who find themselves resistant to my words: how can you live without hope?
I’ll put it in starker terms, which were put to me many years ago before I moved to Israel. At that time, my own views were less nuanced, and I was expressing my frustration at the futility of dialogue to a friend who looked me in the eye and said, “Fine. So why don’t you just turn Gaza to glass?”
Here’s what he meant: Peace will only come when one side of the conflict is dead or ~ when both sides of the conflict approach one another in good faith to find a middle ground.
Now, arguably, one could respond that a strategy of indefinite containment on Israel’s part is the best that we can hope for… but the current explosion of violence underscores the practical limitations of this approach. After all, the Jews and Arabs who are rioting throughout many Israeli cities right now are Israeli citizens living in Israel.
So… indefinite containment? Unlikely.
I have no solution
Look, I’m not an idiot. “Open dialogue” will not bring peace any time soon. Also, “open dialogue” is no substitute for defending one’s self against rocket attacks and mob violence.
Still, as my friend suggested to me those many years ago, what is the alternative?
I live in Jerusalem with Arabs everywhere around me, and I deliberately spent five semesters studying spoken Palestinian Arabic in order to be able to better interact with the human beings around me. In fact, this is something that I will probably return to in the future.
Sure, our respective views on politics, religion, etc., are often in tension with one another, but ignoring one another’s existence will only lead to further conflict because it makes dehumanizing one another all the easier, and when we do not perceive the other as human, well…
So, no, I am not suggesting that terrorists shouldn’t be eliminated, nor am I suggesting that people perpetrating violence shouldn’t be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law. But if we don’t reflect upon the daily lived experiences of human beings here on the ground that led up to this recent outbreak of senseless violence, then there will be no stopping the next one.
Self-righteousness will not bring peace.
P.S. We are okay.
Here in Jerusalem, where I live with my wife and daughter, life today looks no different than it did yesterday, the day before that, the day before that, or the day before that. Several nights ago, we heard rockets flying through the air, but otherwise everything seems normal around us.
Of course, people are somewhat on edge, and everybody knows that we may have to enter our local bomb shelters at any moment, especially because Israel is a tiny country (smaller than the state of New Jersey where I grew up), and especially because we all have friends and family in other cities throughout Israel.
A couple of nights ago, my aunt photographed the night sky in central Israel, which was lit up with rockets, and a rocket landed at a major intersection in her city (Modi’in). We also have other friends and family who live along the Mediterranean coast who are afraid for their lives and the lives of their children. We’ve been lucky ourselves, but the news reports are truly terrifying.
I hate to say this, but I have been walking around for the past several days just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
P.P.S. An interaction from this morning
I went to a shop this morning to buy a few things, and an Arab saleswoman approached me, asking if I needed any assistance. In Arabic, I responded that I did not and that I was doing well.
As I was checking out, that same saleswoman was having a conversation with the Jewish cashier about the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost) and the hours when their shop would be open on Sunday (before the start of the holiday).
We live together.