Wednesday, August 6, 2014


There’s so much going on in the world at this time that I find it particularly hard to write a blog post. Between Israel and Hamas, growing anti-Semitism in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, Ebola outbreak in Africa, droughts all over California, plane crashes and Syria and Iraq, how to elaborate on any of these stories without hurting someone?

My Facebook friends know where I stand on the issue of the war between Israel and Hamas, but in the name of fairness, something I do think I’m capable of, this is not a political post. This is a post about human nature, human characteristic, human failings.

What I’ve noticed most strikingly about the current hot issue, which is Israel vs Hamas, is that no one, no matter how convincing the other party is, has any intention of being swayed in their opinion. The more I see comments on Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp etc., the clearer it becomes to me that those who are voicing their opinion do so because they remain steadfast in that belief.

If I’m a Palestinian supporter, and show photographs of dying babies and bombed hospitals and schools, am I really reaching my opponent? Will he/she be moved by these pictures/videos and reconsider his/her position? I think not.

If I’m Jewish and I show photographs of Hamas’ men shielding themselves behind toddlers, or preventing mothers and children from leaving the danger zone despite warnings, will that sway Palestinian supporters to think otherwise of Israelis? Not a chance.

And now to the outsiders, meaning the rest of the world; those who know nothing about the daily struggles in that part of the world. Those who cannot begin to comprehend the depth of this conflict, the historical divide between two people. I mean the outsider who comfortably sits in his/her living room making up his/her mind, which side to support and, which side to vilify according to the sound bites given to them through various means and ways. I don’t consider an outsider anyone who has family in the affected region. For obvious reasons they can never be “outsiders.”

The fact is, the outsider seems to be fueling anger, loathing, misinformation, ignorance, fear, sensationalism, falsehoods, lies. He or she is not helping the situation, but rather making it worse. The so-called outsider is the person who has no connection one way or another to either side. The outsider isn’t Muslim and isn’t Jewish. He or she is the onlooker, the passive/aggressive party who thinks he/she knows…but in fact does not. The outsider shapes his or her opinion according to…well…feeling, proclivity and influence, none of which are based in reality or rational thought.

Under any other circumstances the outsider leaves room for error in his own assessment. For instance, if a television clip shows a policeman pummeling a person, anything but a tame clip, the outsider will form an opinion but have doubts. “Damn the police, but perhaps he was provoked,” the outsider will have an inner debate with him/herself. The point being there is some questioning on a subconscious level, an innate tendency to give both victim and perpetrator some thought; a healthy back and forth of what could have transpired beyond the clip. Not so with the Israel/Hamas conflict. In this instance, the outsider reacts in absolutes; never mind that a clip or sound bite can and most likely is taken out of context or has been altered; never mind that both sides are playing into their audience; never mind that newspapers and television formulate things according to their inclination. Simply put, there is no reasoning on the part of the outsider.

Of course voicing your opinion is healthy and natural. But how helpful is it for the outsider, in most cases the laymen with little to no knowledge in the matter, to be so consequent, so adamant in his/her view? Why does rational and plausibility fly out the window, and conviction of being right take its place? More than any other conflict, past or present, this one is ruled by emotions. Either you’re with us, or you’re against us. There doesn’t seem to be any reasoning, any inner debate possible, certainly no compassion for the other side. Perhaps this is due to the nature of the problem: the right to exist and thrive. In the meantime, while the outsider shouts his/her position, those caught up in this conflict are confronted with sorrow, grief and bloodshed. Should the fighting stop tomorrow, no one is a winner here. No one can claim victory in the face of so much tragedy.

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