A blank sheet doesn’t exist in the middle east. Its one of the oldest hubs of civilization known. Its dripping with culture, community, conflict, complicated cheekiness and historical context.
So although my former blog was intended to do specific things in under 1200 words, it had no chance to expand on the incredible beauty and complication of the Israeli Palestine conflict in its expansive history. In under 1200 words one could never hope to explain and describe the refugee wanderings and oppressive racism towards the Jewish people by the entire world. One could never even begin to speak of the horrors of the Nazi attempt to genocide them, and even before that, the european ghettos filled with mainly Jews at the edges of society. This is not even to scratch the surface of living in terror in the midst of decades long other civil wars in and amongst the surrounding middle eastern community.
But the former blog also had no time to trace where the money was, following Americas entrance into world war 2, and up to the 6 day war. Would the Israeli state look different now if America hadn’t joined the war, as Russia had arguably already broken Germany, and days after Russia declaring war on Japan, Japan had surrendered. (Oh yeah and some nuclear bombs…)? Would this whole situation be different if Israel had been cut out of Germany or Italy instead? What did the west gain financially by the placement of the Israeli state?
And its at this point in the thought process of three days intense reading and discussion…
ultimately we cannot change the past.
Irrelevant of capitalism’s drunken need of more, conservatism’s favoured vitriolic use of end times falsities to promote fear in its congregants to finance unhelpful ideological wars AND irrelevant of the fact that I, as a white middle class single 28 year old who has never really been wronged, has never really needed to forgive anyone for life long trauma, has never been oppressed, and who doesn’t really understand Judaism, Islam or what being a refugee feels like to the extent that i can empathise fully with any of the peoples involved in this conflict –
All peoples need a home.
All peoples need a nation to champion. All peoples need to belong somewhere. This is one of he reasons communism is occasionally attractive to humans, this is why anarchy doesn’t work in isolation, this is why capitalism needs a nation state as its representative. And why, Jesus needed to come and adopt us fully.
We have been built to belong.
And currently, Israel has a state. Israel – excusing all of its apparent evils to get said state – has a home, has a place to belong. Palestine, depending on most you talk to, still has no home. Much of its population is a giant refugee camp, its larger plot of land in the west bank, has been systematically settled by non-palestinians in a not-so subtle land grab similar to China’s Tibet policy, (oh wait no its not, its completely different) and very similar to Russia’s Crimea grab. (Oh wait… again. totally different, but similar in its intent to take something that legally isn’t theirs) Palestine, from all i have read, wants a home. Needs a home. Is fighting for a home.
And, of course, as deep wounding goes, even if Palestine was given what they want, and it was solidified with borders and no Israeli settlers, and they were given the infrastructure to actually function as a nation (because currently that isn’t happening) there would still be simmering anger, and misinformation throughout both nations that could boil over into subtle and not-so subtle skirmishes. This is part of the reparation process.
I have watched this process in people. Where communication becomes a tight rope walk – as each party wants to repair the relationship, but the slightest over thinking of every word spoken out puts everyone on high alert. Or, it has everyone building walls to shut the others out from hurting them. And the more intimate the relationship was, the harder it is sometimes to repair the relationship. and although it doesn’t look like now, these two peoples have had times of close intimacy.
But, the hoped reparation process of these countries always needs to be fueled by the words “I’m sorry”, “I forgive you” and “I want to make this work”. Both in word and action.
– Both sides have done wrong. It does take two to tango, and in the case of Israel and Palestine this couldn’t be any more right. There is no innocent party and the word SORRY breaks down the sense of rightness on either side. In any relationship we can hold a sense of being wronged and even more so when paired with a sense of justice.
‘It’s right that i hold this wrongedness, until they own up to theirs’
but that then escalates by no one stepping back and saying sorry. The humility that it takes to say sorry is hard. SOOO hard, but needed. Both parties need to say sorry, and nothing will progress if no one says it. But then words are just that. Being sorry has to be an action too. If you stole a barbie from your sister and just said sorry, everyone would know that you don’t really understand what being sorry is. Sorry would arrive to say sorry, holding the barbie and maybe a chocolate bar. Its not just about returning what was wronged, but building future trust by bringing more.
I forgive you
– These are words that seldom need to be spoken first out loud, but they have to continually be spoken internally. Of course, if the other party come and ask for forgiveness, then saying these words is very important, followed by affirming the forgivens character a lot, to affirm the humility it takes to ask for something. But internally forgiving others frees us to continue to love people. If we don’t forgive, the unforgiveness will calcify in us and rip us apart from the inside out. This isn’t to say that we let people off the hook. That when wronged we don’t care about the wrong, wrongs need to be dealt with appropriately. But forgiveness clears our minds and hearts to see future relationships clearer, and even to see the consequences of those that wrong us and how they need to be meted out.
I once lived with an amazing man who hated his father for good reason. His father was not a good man in any sense of the word, but it also meant that my friend couldn’t engage in intimacy with father-type figures, he hated being led by men, he hated all authority. Which meant that any employer he had would find him frustrating to work with, my friend seldom took advice or needed wisdom because he didn’t trust anyone, which also meant that he didn’t know how to get comfort, or make decisions outside of emotional responses. And we would talk about how forgiving his Dad would be hard, it would be a constant process and it would give him freedom to do a lot of things he wanted to do, and he saw that. But he couldn’t do it.
Forgiveness isn’t always about those we are forgiving, because they don’t care most of the time. In the case of my friend, his father went to his grave unforgiven, and if he had been forgiven it is arguable that he wouldn’t have known or cared. But the unforgiveness is still stopping my friend from doing things he wants to even though his father is dead.
In the case of Israel Palestine, there is SOO much legitimate distrust and wounding for both sides. Forgiveness is hard but needed, as tender and strong hearts are what is needed for peace to be realised, not calloused and stressed hearts seeking revenge.
I want to make this work.
– I once had a neat room mate who really wanted our room to be neat. He came up with this genius idea that i got to mess up one corner of the room as long as the rest of the room was neat and as long as that corner didn’t smell. It totally worked. and i learned a lot about neatness through that process. But if i had looked at his idea and just ignored it. Or agreed in word but not practice, even if i said sorry, there would be nothing in that sorry.
We can say sorry, we can forgive and be forgiven and still have tension and conflict if we aren’t committed to making it work with legitimate ways and means. To find the ways and means, sometimes we are going to have to go through frustratingly long meetings and dialogues to find the middle ground that both sides and practically see working. Both sides of this conflict are populated with innovative geniuses. This world surrounding them are also peopled by those that understand history, and have seen good and bad ways to solve conflict.
So what is the hold up?
What is holding back these two beautiful nations from agreeing to champion each other?
And at what point will they just drop all pretense and destroy each other?
And what will the world do then?