Okay, I really don’t mean that. But it’s hard not to FEEL that sometimes.
I am exhausted by you, Facebook. Blood, ignorance, death, malice.
Did you know that the death toll in Syria surpassed 170,000 people this month? I didn’t either. I had to look it up.
No, my Facebook feed has been dominated by the Gaza war, and before that, the kidnapping and murder of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers.
It’s not so much the news. I mean, BBC or Haaretz or even the National Post can tell me what’s going on over there. It’s the commentary.
Much of it along the lines of – “you thought you knew what’s going on over there in Israel/Palestine, but nobody is talking about [whatever particular injustice I feel attached to].” Or “read this brilliant editorial by [someone who agrees with my way of thinking] which talks about [how ridiculous the other side’s opinions are].”
I haven’t written a public opinion on Israel and Palestine for years because I’ve wanted to avoid fighting about it. It’s emotionally draining. (In fact, I’ll feel most at peace if you walk away from this post with only the vaguest idea of what my opinions on the conflict actually are. For more, you’ll still have to ask me directly.)
On top of that, it’s so goddamn complicated over there, sometimes I don’t know what to think. Even after studying the topic and following it for years. The more I study, the less I’m sure I know.
Sometimes it’s easier to just kind of focus on the here-and-now, and let the hopelessness fade into the background.
And yet, what happens over there matters so much to me. Insomuch as I feel a part of a people with a beautiful tradition, a love for learning, questioning, and debate, a love for laughter, dry humour and music. A people that have been bizarrely singled out and targeted by much of the Western world for 2,000 years. I mean, 2,000 years — of forced conversions, pogroms, expulsions and murder. What is that?
In light of that history and in the shadow of the Holocaust, of course I can understand why many thought that the Jewish State was the only viable solution. We are a terrified, traumatized people, no matter how comparatively great the last 60 years have been.
Of course it’s not just me. I don’t know what it’s like to “feel” Palestinian or Arab. But I can appreciate how real it is, as real as my Jewish identity feels to me.
I can appreciate how painful and arbitrary the occupation is, how evil the towers and walls and missiles of the occupation’s army must feel to be. How al naqba is seared into the Palestinian identity. How, after hearing the death tolls in Gaza, the only viable explanation must be that the Israeli army deliberately targets Palestinian children.
Even if I could reach out and say that Israel isn’t all war and bombs and occupation, I know that in day-to-day life, I can’t. At least, not in one day. And I can’t blame them for choosing their tribe over mine.
And as for the rest of the world, those who find they are drawn to this conflict — welcome to our little clusterfuck.
You have a unique opportunity to understand both sides, without the baggage of an emotional investment. And with that comes a deeper responsibility, I think.
If you get involved, know what you are talking about. Learn, ask questions. Try to understand both sides. Even if you come to support one side’s cause over the other, try to understand why the other side acts the way they do.
If you go over there – to Israel/Palestine – talk to people. Palestinian cities, from Ramallah to Nablus to Hebron. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Gaza, if you dare.
Then, please, come in to our homes, have a cup of Turkish coffee (or Nescafe if you can stomach it), sit down at the table, and tell us what you see.