This is not a post about sides. Not sides that are separated by race, religion, culture, leadership, borders or boundaries. This is a post about human beings.
My husband John is brilliant (he might argue, but I must insist). He has explained to me numerous times that wise men are programmed to fix things. Wise women will tend to the wounds of the weary and nurture during crisis, they wrap their arms around those they hold dear and comfort, but wise men fix. When something is broken, flawed or causing chaos, the tendency of the wise man is to fix it and once again bring about contentment to those he loves.
The tendency of the caveman is to pound his chest, swing his club, wield his spear and thrive in creating animosity and fear in his opponent. Perhaps that is why we’ve worked so hard to evolve from the caveman status. It never seemed to take hold as a method that served as a means to a satisfying end.
So, when my heartbroken, frustrated self said “Fix the crisis in the Middle East! People are dying!” he said “I’ve already thought it through.”
Killing the innocent, the under armed and overexposed was not acceptable when it was done to the Jews from 1933 to 1945 and it’s not acceptable as it has been done to the Palestinians from 1948 to, well, right now. Oppression in any form is wrong, robbing individuals of their right to a safe and healthy existence can only be condemned and never condoned. Both sides have got to be sick and tired of this conflict. The Palestinians tired of check-points and strip searches and watching their children suffer and die. The Israelis must be tired of looking over their shoulder, even though their superior weapons ensure their death tolls have remained low, death is still death and meaningless loss is still meaningless loss. The Israelis must be weary of being associated with genocide, once again, only this time on the outside firing in. Does the abused really become the abuser? Who stops the pattern and how?
John went on to explain to me that if Israel put a tenth of the money they put into their arsenal into the good of Palestine; built good roads, state of the art hospitals and clinics, schools and universities, built houses and helped entrepreneurs realize their ambition to serve the public in whatever fashion they dreamed, perhaps some good would come from it. After all, it is rare to bite the hand that feeds.
If Israel pulled Israeli settlements out of Gaza and instead of threatening Palestinians with the idea that they will slowly become a disappearing act, helped build infrastructure with the funds they receive from the U.S., that perhaps the end result would be a Palestine willing to compromise and shake the outstretched hand of Israel in the name of peace, for the future of the children.
If the horrible, insulting wall came down, the one that divides the two nations in such a way that makes one feel like a caged animal and the other the keeper, perhaps a sigh of peaceful relief would replace the sounds of bombs, gunfire, and cries of grief, pain and insurmountable loss.
We’ve seen it done before, but can it happen twice in a lifetime? Can we witness a wall toppling in the name of humanitarianism more than once in a span of thirty years? Why not?
“So what you’re saying is ‘be kind’? Considerate? Aware that an act of compassion might mirror itself and bring about more compassion?”
“Yes” he said. “Compassion.”
It sounds way too simple. This is a conflict that has been going on for nearly seventy years. It’s complicated, messy, bloody, painful and hopeless.
Or is it?
This conflict is a human tragedy, but it is human and humans are the only ones who can make conscious decisions to make change. If we don’t make change, we cannot picture a world without an Israeli/Palestinian feud. The Hatfields and McCoys of our time.
Yes, there are bad guys – on both sides, but it’s not the bad guys that are suffering insurmountable loss, it is people. Human beings that love their children, take (took) pride in their homes and just want peace.
My hope in my father’s lifetime was to have him see his homeland once more. As he nears his 83rd birthday, I have realized that probably won’t happen, so I gave him the only gift I know how to do well. I wrote him a feature script about the possibility for love and peace replacing hate and animosity between Palestinians and Israelis. A love story that has received high marks from movie producers and scored in the top 15% of the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship, yet no one is brave enough to touch it.
I wonder how it’s possible to be more comfortable in the chaos then it is to cry “Hate isn’t working!” It will never work.
Who will be brave enough to stop destroying olive trees in Palestine and instead extend the olive branch? What people in power in all the lands will be brave enough to stand up and say we are destroying humankind and ask what good can come from this?
Hate breeds hate, just as compassion breeds compassion.
It is time to put down the weapons, it’s time for all hands on deck to rebuild Palestine to be a place where human beings who just wish to live their lives can live free and with dignity alongside their neighboring Israelis.
There must be a new way to think this thing through. For seventy years war has not worked – it’s time to think outside the wall of containment and rebuild a crippled nation so that the children of the region can cease to live in fear. So that people, just people, can live in peace.
It’s time for finger pointing, name calling, blame seeking to stop. It’s time for the wise men to come forward and lead, and the wise women to nurture and heal.
Where are all the wise men?
Before one more drop of blood is senselessly shed, before one more parent buries their child, before one more heart is broken
In the calmest of tones I can muster up – at last, it’s time.