On Friday, I wrote about the situation in the Middle East and shared a handful of articles I found interesting. Today, I add to that list. I should also say that while I’m providing soundbites from each piece, they are way more nuanced than I can capture here. I recommend clicking through and reading them.
In Is Hamas Trying to Get Gazans Killed?, Jeffrey Goldberg answers that question (with a yes) as many writers have. He then poses an important question:
“The politics of the moment are fascinating and dreadful, but what really interests me currently is a counterfactual: What if, nine years ago, when Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza, the Palestinians had made a different choice. What if they chose to build the nucleus of a state, rather than a series of subterranean rocket factories?”
Goldberg essentially says the Palestinians could have done what the Kurds have done and created something significant for themselves. The ground was laid for this in 2005. But the Palestinians had other plans – plans involving terror – and today, we are all worse off for it.
In Encountering Peace, Ending the Cycle, Gershon Baskin writes,
“It is essential that Israel declare that the people of Gaza are not its enemy. Hamas is the enemy.”
Such an important point – Jews are not all good and Palestinians are not all bad. It is easy to use the language of “us” vs. “them.” I find myself going down that slippery slope. This article also reminds us that while force is necessary at times, it alone will not resolve conflicts of this scale and depth.
“The Gulf wars and the Arab Spring have broken down most of our old enemies – Iraq, Syria and Libya – but another enemy has risen up: chaos.” And “The years of calm are over. We’ve now come face to face with the new, wild and violent Middle East.”
I sure hope Shavit is wrong, though I fear he may not be. Shavit wrote another piece which I found even more touching, sad, scary, and informative. In War Clouds Over My Sons’ Future, he not only talks about the conflict from a very personal angle, but also reminds us that there was a period of relative peace – and it is no more. Shavit writes, almost in a series of rhetorical what-ifs:
“To live here means trying to make the walls as secure as we can, but knowing that whether they are walls of stone or domes of iron, they will never be impregnable. If we are to live here, it has to be not because we are safe, but because we believe it matters. Thus, if we are to live here, we have to make it matter.”
“Moral equivalency makes a mockery of truth, but moral superiority makes a mockery of responsibility.”
I’ll end on a slightly more heart-warming note. In What Happens When Israeli Mourners Visit a Palestinian Family, NPR’s Ari Shapiro describes the scene as Israelis visit the family of slain Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Definitely worth a read or a listen.
May the embrace between those Israeli visitors and that Palestinian mother become symbolic for an embrace of peace between both sides.