Friday, March 6, 2009

Irony of Gaza

Lately, I have run into multiple interfaith circumstances that have become fraught with tension around the issue of Gaza. Sometimes this is because one party wishes to enforce the language of their understanding of the conflict – usually in defense of the military strikes of their religious or ethnic compatriots. This has been true of Jewish friends who insist that Israel was reacting to previous strikes from Hamas. It is hard for them to hear that I was leaving Tel Aviv the day that Israel broke the cease fire (Nov. 4th). And why does such arguments always focus on Hamas when other groups in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad and others, have been firing rockets into southern Israel.

On the other hand, some Muslim and Christian friends have been responding with their own reactions to the conflict. Some are hypersensitive to any statement about the conflict, including any criticism of Palestinian armed resistance such as the firing of rockets. Others are just as sensitive about who started the Gaza conflict, or insist that the disproportionality of those wounded and killed on both sides proves which side is right.

Both people are indigenous to the region. Both people have been traumatized. And the future hope of a settlement depends just as much on the U.S. becoming an honest broker for peace. Polemical statements against Hamas because they don't recognize the right of Israel to exist never question why Israel has never recognized the right of a Palestinian state to exist. Those who have been there know that the growth of Settlements in the West Bank and the cordoning off and siege of Gaza make a viable Palestinian state impossible. But until a negotiated, just peace is restored both peoples will continue to live in conflict: and until there is genuine hope for a peaceful resolution, perhaps we who have loved ones on every side of the conflict need to learn how to live out support for every victim of the conflict - especially the nonviolent civilians caught in between.

Here is a video from a Jewish friend in Israel called "Closed Zone":


Betsy said...

Great video. I guess I just don't know or understand enough about it all and have not been denied my homeland so I have no point of reference. I am a traveler. I value relationships. I travel and I have many realtionships in many places. I figure if someone wants or needs to reclaim what they perceive as not mine, then I would just go somewhere else and make my life happier in a new place, which I presume many have done. I admire the fortitude and tenacity of those who stand up for what is perceived as their rights and their homeland. But when it comes to fight or flight - I suppose I fly...

Willy Mac said...

I have a similar response. How very American of us, especially those of us in the wild, wild, west. Those with more than 5 generations on the same land - both Jewish and Arab in Israel-Palestine – approach the issue very differently. Of course, this makes this particular conflict particularly intractable. Thanks for participating in the blog!