Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Appeal for Empathy for Israel and Palestine

Very few problems are as complex as that of Israel and Palestine. Even assuming that the politicians on either side are actually sincere in achieving peace (something that is strongly suspect), it combines elements of politics, history, religion, economics, demographics, and the most prized possession of mortal man, land. So it isn't straightforward at all.

But we must learn to separate the problem from the people.

The only thing that stops the Palestinians from "disappearing" and "solving" this problem (for the Israelis) is that history has taught us that you cannot wipe a people off the face of the map due to the sheer physical challenge of such a task. They're hanging on by a thread not dissimilar to the one the Native Americans, Jews, and Australian aboriginees held on to, in history.

There was a comic strip regarding this in the newspaper last week: a lone Israeli and a lone Palestinian burying their dead in their respective graveyards, "The Last Israeli/Palestinian" written on their shirts. When they're done, they look at each other for a moment, and then charge at each other with their shovels.

Not exactly very comic. But this is indicative of the fatigue the world feels when it comes to the Middle East. "Oh no, not the Middle East again!"

We should be empathetic to the plights of common people in the region. Consider for a moment what it's like to be a Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip, or an Israeli under rocket fire.

And I say this regardless of what opinions these people may hold and whoever may have the upper hand, Israel or Palestine. Most Israelis supported the offensive against Gaza, and most Palestinians voted for Hamas.

But pain is pain, and an Israeli getting killed on her way back from the gym from Hamas rockets is as tragic as the Palestinian child dying from an Israeli bomb while taking out the garbage, no matter what they think, or who they voted for. To me, both of these are incalculable losses. They are both, to me, inextricably family.

We should seggregate our emotions. Let us reserve our consternation for the politicians and experts, upon whom we depend to solve the most critical of our problems, and who have so thoroughly and consistently let us all down.

And let us reserve our empathy, good will and prayers for the common people on the ground.

All they really want to do is get on with their lives, just like us.


About Me

My photo
I write essays in my spare time on things that are important to me. The ones that I feel are any good, or make any sense, I put them up here. :)