Prioritizing peace

A few weeks ago, I turned 21.

I am just like everybody else. I live my life, go about my business, endure hardships and I move on. We use races, religions and nationalities to distinguish ourselves from each other and I believe that we should be proud of who we are. I am a Jewish South African Israeli- someone who has been exposed almost all her life to the differences that divide us and thus is no stranger to conflict; or at least is no stranger to the possibility of that conflict occurring.

Its disturbing to realize how often people say things like “The US should just wipe out the entire Middle East” or “Just take over and all their troubles will be solved”. Firstly is galvanizes me when people speak that way, especially since the people saying these things live thousands of miles away. Everybody has an opinion, even when it doesn’t involve them. Apparently, the problems happening in their own countries are too trivial to trifle with…

At the same time, what I want to know is, when did we become so blindsided by political and religious differences that we have forgotten the most important thing, the whole reason these arguments began in the first place- the individual. When did it become okay to ignore situations in which people are living in poor conditions or in constant fear or even when their lives are constantly being threatened?

At the core of the matter we are all human beings. We all need to eat, we all need to sleep and we all need to blink. Often (unknowingly) we take joy in similar things and just as often we can be outraged by others. It is these people we need to think of when referring to the Israeli-Arab conflict- whether it’s Israeli’s or Arabs that we’re referring to. In order to get the best outcome for all involved we need to look at the past with a critical eye and truly evaluate who it really is in this war seeking peace.

It wasn’t Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Rabin or Yitzhak Shamir who led their people to two violent uprisings resulting in countless deaths. It wasn’t the Israeli government’s disreputable mismanagement of millions that crippled it’s people. It definitely wasn’t Menachem Begin who rejected Israel’s generous offer to the Palestinian Liberation Organization for 100% of the Gaza Strip, 97% of the West Bank and half- HALF- of Jerusalem-our holiest city and the capital of our beloved country.

So think about it. Next time you make empty, sweeping statements about a country, it’s people and it’s government policies you have to keep in mind you’re creating a stereotype for those people. A stereotype about people you’ve more than likely never met or gotten to know and a stereotype that will be impressed upon other people who might be just as inexperienced.

So for the large proportion of those who comment about the Israeli-Arab conflict from behind the laptop screens, here’s a few facts for you: I bet you didn’t know that Abu Shukri has the best Hummus in Israel, or that Save A Child’s Heart fly in children from all over world-without bias- to perform open heart surgery when they needed it the most. I am positive you didn’t know that during the last operation the IDF went through in the Gaza Strip, each day there was a ‘Humanitarian Corridor’; a few hours each day where all shooting on the Israeli side would cease so that citizens could go shopping and do what they needed to do while aid was brought in.

Many people don’t realise that Israeli’s are often Israel’s biggest critics. So next time you come across a photo or a video or even an article that is obviously anti-Zionist, do a little research and I guarantee that you’ll be surprised by the result.

About the Author
Michal is a South African, Israeli student, wandering the world one day at a time and sharing her experiences from her point of view with those who care to listen.
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