Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is it possible to look forward?

This is a blog I recently found that I wrote back in 2009. I still believe it rings true today. 

Ms. Tzipi Livni Vice-Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel noted in her conference; ‘Proclaiming terrorists as a nation’s cultural heroes will negatively influence education and the fabric of society with long term implications and damage to the international recognition of a future Palestinian State. In Israel’s fight on all fronts to combat the threat of religious extremism and terrorism, the cooperation and support of the international community is greatly needed.’ Noting exactly my sentiments on how a harmful and caustic cycle of a lack of societal benefits (education, safety) causes the glorification of terrorism as a means to an end, Tzipi and I could not agree more.
While I did note the importance of allowing the Palestinian State to build infrastructure both from a political standpoint and a physical one (houses, education, health care, roads, etc) it is equally important to recognize the state of Israel’s right to defend their land. The Israeli’s, whether or not the Palestinians like it, have proven their military and agricultural dominance in the region. Since the creation of the state, the Israeli people have been tireless in its defense. Such a large majority of the national budget is channeled into defense and intelligence. Look at a map. Please, go do it. Note the size of the country. Israel is tiny. For all the hardships the Jews have endured since their exodus, isn’t it time we let them rest? Let’s look at a solution, lets’ talk. I am in favor of talks and a two-state solution. But most importantly, lets educate each other.
After living in both worlds, the Jewish/Israeli world and the Egyptian/Islamic one, I can honestly say the two mindsets are not the same. These two groups of people think differently. Different cultures, languages, and geographic locations all work together to thread the view of how you look at the world. The Arab world and the Israeli world are different. It is so difficult to pinpoint that thing, the thing that separates one from the other. One of my friends here always asks me, “why, Sarah, why? Why are they (the Arab people) so violent? Why are they bombing schools?” I don’t know what to say to her. My only response is, “They do not all think that way. You have extremes in every place, and the Arab violence gets a huge chunk of attention from the media.” I stand by what I say, but unfortunately, I have noticed, and I really want to learn why, that hatred runs so deep. On both sides. If the Middle East and all its problems were one big puzzle, I think I have the 4 corner pieces, and maybe a few sparsely scattered in the middle. Slowly but surely. I think my biggest realization from living here has been: how is it possible for diplomats and mediators in this process possibly attempt to mediate something unless they have lived here? Unless they have taken the time to learn those cultural nuances, to master the languages, to really listen to the people, and not only the leaders? I suppose it’s human nature. Revert to the leaders. But maybe some positive change could be made if instead of focusing on forcing talks between two governments with agendas- what if we focused on the new generation. Focus on the kids who will be the leaders, so we don’t’ continue to breed generations full of their grandparents hate. Education is the first step in a process that will last beyond any of our lifetimes.

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