Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Year, A New Way Of Thinking

The New Year has just begun, and already there is a lot of sobering news that we are hearing about on a daily basis. For me, hearing about the deaths of innocent civilians in the Israel/Gaza conflict is very difficult to bear. I feel caught between two worlds. On one hand, as a member of the Jewish community, I am very supportive of Israel and what it represents as a homeland and a place of safety for the Jews, who have been persecuted for thousands of years.

At the same time, I don't always agree with everything that the state of Israel does. It seems to me that if we continue the same strategies to counter terrorism in the world - ie. military solutions - then we will continue to create anger and hatred between people. It is said that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

Most disturbing to me in all of this is the extremism found on both sides. The conflict has degenerated into an US and THEM dispute. I saw a disturbing video on the internet of a Muslim woman in Florida calling for the Jews to "go back to the oven," a reference to the Holocaust. And I have been to a rally where a Jewish official called for the "extermination of Hamas." On the other side of the spectrum, I have heard of a coalition of Israelis and Palestinians who believe that there is a peaceful alternative to the violence that is taking place in their region.

My own opinion is that as soon as we lose sight of our shared humanity and begin labeling the members of another group with broad stereotypical brands, then we have already failed in our efforts to bring about a resolution. Even if there is a "winner" in this war, it will create a "loser" who will someday try to take his vengeance on the other side. The only true solution will come through stubborn and persistent negotiation, against all odds, and surpassing all "realistic expectations." It will only come about when both sides in this conflict realize that to continue in the ways of the past will only cause unbearable damage to future generations.