It’s not a number understood outside Israel. It’s the number of Israeli soldiers who have died since 1860. It’s a number that bears repeating on Yom Hazikaron; Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers. It’s a number that bears repeating every day because it is a tragic reminder of a conflict that continues to take and change lives forever. There are spouses, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers that will go on without as well as a slew of friends and acquaintances that must carry the memory with them wherever they go. It casts a very long shadow….
Now there is an enemy that has taken losses as well. In the arithmetic of this terrible war of attrition it appears that Palestinian casualties represent some four to five times the number above depending on sources, (such as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Amnesty International and others). While it is not a day to consider their losses, or acts of terror against civilians it is difficult to imagine how to stop the trail of blood without Israelis and Palestinians approaching each other to begin a conversation that connects people to each other and the common goal of peace even if it cannot unite them.
I have the benefit of distance and the safety of sitting some 5000 miles away in my home here in Pennsylvania. From my perch having not served in the IDF or even lived in Israel I can only speak as an interested member of the Diaspora community who has watched, listened, studied and learned both from that distance and through my journeys to Israel and the West Bank.
I do not feel the pain of loss, only sympathy and a heartfelt desire to do what I can to help Israelis and Palestinians find a viable path to peace.I have traveled, written, created educational programs and continue to work to bring the faiths together here to build support for a secure and lasting peace. It is not enough. It is not even close. But after more than a dozen years, a hundred articles written and thousands read I understand that it is possible to open the door at least a crack to make it just a bit more likely to close the club to new members that Pnina Weiss unfortunately joined ten years ago; http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=267284.