I have been recently sent to Glasgow by my workplace. It is difficult to be far away from home when there is a war going there. It is also difficult to walk in foreign cities like Glasgow or Edinburgh, and to see protests against your country, accusing it for the situation in Gaza, without mentioning Hamas. I wanted to talk to you, protesters, and explain my personal view as an Israeli, but I was too angry for being accused, and honestly, I was a bit afraid. So instead I decided to write.
I appreciate activism and I admire the courage of taking a stand. I can support signs saying “Free Palestine” or “End the Violence”, but seeing signs saying “Israel is a Terror Country” or “Boycott Israel” makes me feel ashamed and as a result frustrated and angry. It makes me want to defend myself and to accuse “them” – Hamas, the Palestinian people, no matter who they are, as long as they are not me. Feeling accused does not make me want to talk and to listen, it just makes want to shout: “you are wrong and I am right!”. I believe you are familiar with this feeling; most of us will feel this way when being blamed of something. This is a natural feeling, but it does not promote a solution to the situation.
The demand to stop the violence and to end the war is essential; yet accusing Israel solely will not promote this goal. We all know that a conflict involves at least two sides, each of them sees the world from its very own perspective, also known as “the absolute truth”. Think about personal conflicts you had with your partner, with a family member or with a friend: you were probably very angry with him or her, shocked by the fact that they did not act as you expected them to. When you started talking about the conflict, you found out that they see things differently, and you might even understood that you did something wrong, and your “absolute truth” is slightly different that theirs. This is the way to solve conflicts. You have to take responsibility to solve it. You have to leave the comfort zone of accusing, where you feel the holy spirit of justice within you. It feels holy indeed, but it keeps things bad as they are.
As peace activists, I assume that like me, you believe that violence cannot be stopped by more violence. Ignoring or justifying the violence of Hamas is a form of violence. So is cancelling an Israeli show at Edinburgh Fringe festival. Both are forms of violence, and as a result, none of them will assist to bring peace and freedom or even to stop the violence.
In order to do that, I suggest focusing on solutions and on the common ground rather than focusing on who is to blame. Both Israeli people and Palestinian people want to live freely and peacefully. Palestine deserves freedom, Israel deserves freedom as well, and both can get it only by having a dialog. Dear protesters, help us, the people of the small piece of land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, create this dialog. Start with encouraging dialog in your protests. Wave the Palestinian flag together with the Israeli flag. Show you are devoted to peace and to freedom rather than to terror.