I’m generally a very open minded person – I never label and judge people by their race, religion, or sexual preference, and by definition that makes me liberal. In the same time, I’m not getting into shading Israel as the one responsible power, causing all the suffering and pain of the Palestinians. I believe there’s a fine line between the sides, where we could open discussions and try to learn more about each other’s point of views – without dismissing the different opinions.
In a previous blog post of mine I raised a question – and I never got a satisfying answer, not from Israelis, and not from Palestinians. “How many of you can fully identify with the country’s government you live in? How many of you would feel frustrated if people from abroad would put you in the same box with “your kind”? Probably – unless you are a member of your country’s Parlament – there are quite a few things your ‘country does’ you don’t agree with. Same here – as much as I love Israel, I don’t agree fully with everything what it’s leaders do – continuing building settlements for instance is certainly not something I feel related to. Just like this, not everyone in Iran, Jordan, or Egypt wants Israel to be destroyed – there are millions of good people out there who want the very same thing as us: to live as one, in peace. I don’t get why people dare to hate the citizens of Israel or Iran just because they were born into a complicated political situation.”
Theoretically this is all nice and fair – but in reality once you declare yourself as a pro-peace, pro-human rights person, people expect you to make up your mind: “Are you with us, or against us?” Living in Jaffa, sharing the land with Muslims, Christians and Jews I truly believe that the best thing we can do is keep our eyes and hearts open. I’m convinced that smiling at an Arab lady who’s wearing hijab, or saying “shukran” to the Arab shop owner after getting pita bread in his store takes us much further than triggering others to rage against the system.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t trust “the system”, I don’t think Israel, Palestine, the EU, or the US has “all the answers”, and I’m also not naive enough to believe: politicians are going to give solutions to all our problems. All I’m saying is that once we humans decide to stick together, sharing our experiences, fears, talents and stories, we’ll be able to make decisions together – as a nation, or even as united nations. Until we are focusing on fighting the opponent, we’ll never have the chance to challenge the political system.
Finally, I’d like to tell a story about a friend of mine, who lives in a country which is – on paper – at war with israel. This precious friend went through hell in his childhood, trying to understand why does he have to be afraid of our airplanes and tanks. Later on as a gay teenager, reading about Tel Aviv’s blossoming LGBTQ culture he raised the question: why does he have to be scared from his own people, and obey rules he never agreed on, when just a few miles away there’s a superb-liberal, gay friendly city, founded by those who he’s supposed to see as the enemy. I don’t expect my friend to become a fan of Israel – he lost too much to just forget the nightmares he had to experience. He doesn’t expect me to turn against the country I live in, in fact, he says if he’d have a European passport, he’d even risque visiting the White City.
People don’t have to agree about everything to become friends. Non of us thinks, talks, eats the same way, and the same way as we don’t label anyone by the music he is listening to, or by the books she is reading, we must not allow ourselves to jump to consequences about a person just because we have a firm believe system and his experience thought him otherwise. Our enemy is not the Arab world, or Muslims, not even Palestinians. Their enemies are not the Jews, Israelis, and not even s. Our common enemy is extremism, harsh judgment, and our very own limitation, not being able to see how much power we have to influence others, and to create the peace we are all desperately longing for.