'There’s an odd duplicity when it comes to peace. When absent in the face of war, peace feels like a dream made impossible by unforgivable violence. In better times, peace is little more than an unsung truth of day-to-day life, a powerful reality that silently flourishes.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been intermittently shedding blood for decades; it is easily one of the most persistent and intractable global conflicts of modern time. Every gory image that passes before our eyes makes the dream of peace feel ever more distant. People around the world have watched this conflict for so long that most have long since made up their minds about whose fault it is—or, worse, about whether or not they should even care anymore. Stories of settlements, kidnappings, apartheid, bomb strikes—they may provide emotional fodder for arguments about winners and losers for a day, a month, or years, depending on how long a grudge borne of injustice can last. But for many watchers, all these incidents melt into a long, painful continuum of chaos that feels impenetrable. The fear is that we’re locked into a never-ending story that will never have a happy ending.
With feelings so hurt, it’s hard to see a way out. But peace is real. Peace can still happen. Peace is worth hoping for. Peace is the only thing that soothes pain on all sides. Peace is the only way that everyone really wins.
Choosing Sides Hurts Everyone
Many people with opinions about what’s happening in the Middle East are educated on the subject from afar and don’t pay any price in the actual conflict. Other long-distance empathizers have close religious or ethnic ties to the region and develop intractable, emotion-racked opinions that can’t be changed through reasoning or visions of future peace. Faraway people who develop such hardened stances and take sides in the Middle East conflict may be well informed about the issue, but their opinions aren’t going to solve matters or help healthy sovereign governments take hold.
What’s worse, when outsiders pick a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and try to influence the situation on the ground from afar in divisive ways, they aren’t helping, according to parents who have lost children to bloodshed.
Palestinian Bassam Aramin’s daughter Abir was killed in 2007 by Israeli border police. Israeli Robi Damelin’s son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2002. Together, they tour the world withThe Parents Circle, an advocacy group whose members have lost close relatives to the conflict. They’re asking people not to take sides and to stop treating the seriously fraught global conflict like it’s some sort of Super Bowl game in which rooting for one side or the other is a pastime.
As Damelin told National Public Radio in July, “Please do not take sides. Please do not be pro-Israel, do not be pro-Palestine, because what you are doing is feeling very good about yourself. But what you are doing is importing our conflict into your country and creating hatred between Jews and Muslims. And that doesn’t serve any purpose at all, and certainly doesn’t help'