I don’t say much about the political situation where I live right now. Even before moving to Israel, I had little to say on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, largely because I didn’t understand the day to day lived realities of the assorted people involved well enough to comment. I’m not religious, I’ve never felt strong ties to a place or group, I’ve never had to fight for the right to live in a certain area or be a certain way, and I’ve never suffered genuine hardship at the hands of another person/group of persons. I had thoughts on the subject, certainly, but nothing of real value to add to the debate, and I had no idea of what side (if any) really occupied the moral high ground.
I’ve heard it said by others that once you live in Israel for some time, even as an expat, you find yourself unconsciously taking sides. Indeed, I know many people this has happened to, people who find themselves becoming more sympathetic to one group or the other. And it occurred to me today that after almost a year of living here, I am no closer to supporting any one “side”.
The recent kidnapping and subsequent murder of three teens in the West Bank perfectly outlines why. Upon hearing of this awfulness, my first instinct was to feel horrible for those children. Then I was angry at the people who kidnapped these kids, who treated innocent children as enemy combatants. Who does such a thing, I thought? But then I remembered who did such a thing – kids themselves. And then I remembered that there are parents involved here – parents on both sides who convince their children that others hate them, parents on both sides who move their children to what are at best controversial areas to live in, all in the name of principle.
There’s much more to it than this, of course, but therein lies one (of the many) problems I have with picking a “side” in this conflict: when children on all sides are being targeted, manipulated and trained to think a certain way, no one can claim to occupy the moral high ground, can they? And while I may not understand the lived realities of those in my now immediate area, while I can’t possibly understand the historical significance, the religious ties, the fear, the hatred, the determination to live in a place because you know you are meant to be there, I do understand that no one group here is blameless. And that in spite of this, no one is willing to accept any blame. I therefore remain equally frustrated and sympathetic to all sides, a position that is unlikely to change.
The only thing that has changed since living here? I’m sadder than I was. So many wasted lives.