So tired of conflict

Sickened by Israeli airstrikes killing so very many Palestinians. 227 dead the last I read, and apparently 150 of them are militants. That still leaves 77 civilians…

Sickened by thousands of Hamas rockets (last I read was 4000) fired on Israel which have killed 12 (and luckily no more due to the Israeli defence system).

Sickened by Israeli policies of evicting Palestinians and grabbing land which sparked the fighting going on in Israel now. The Israelis blame Palestinians for starting the fights but forget that they started this particular escalation by continued evictions and eviction threats. In Israel, eviction is not merely a legal matter, it is always political when Palestinians are concerned.

Sickened by Netanyahu. Sickened by Hamas. I understand where both sides are coming from but their actions sicken me nonetheless.

Sickened by the rise of antisemitism I am seeing yet again.

I understand a ceasefire will be coming within the next day or two. I fervently hope so!

Of course, once the ceasefire happens, nothing will change. People will be even more extreme and entrenched. Netanyahu will continue grabbing land trying to force Palestinians out and Hamas will continue rejecting recognition of Israel. There are no good guys in this scenario, only bad guys on both sides trying to gain the upper hand. Meanwhile, the people suffer. Living peacefully side by side, in two sovereign states, still feels as impossible as ever.

I’ve seen so much taking sides over this without nuance that I also want to add here that Palestine has never been a sovereign nation, the territory has always been occupied by so many nations throughout its complete history. From wikipedia: “[It] has been controlled by many kingdoms and powers, including Ancient Egypt, Persia, Alexander the Great and his successors, the Roman Empire, several Muslim dynasties, and the Crusaders. In modern times, the area was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, then the United Kingdom and since 1948 it has been divided into Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

I have seen this map of the more recent territorial history on my timeline a lot and came across a more nuanced version that I’d like to share here as well:

Source

In the grander scheme of things it’s really a many, many centuries old Arab – Western world conflict with so very many historical and religious influences at play. The solution is not easy and emotions over this are fraught but at some point the culmination of thousands of years of conflict must result in some common ground, right? Could it ever happen in my lifetime, I wonder?


MTA: I just listened to Sarah Silverman talk about her confusion and mixed feelings about the whole situation and it pretty much mirrors mine. Starting at 13:30 minutes…

(P.S. Considering switching off comments for this one as I don’t want an Israel – Palestine conflict being fought out right here on my blog. For now keeping it open but I’ll see how it goes. This also applies to Twitter where I will only allow the people I follow to comment).

Peace, when?

My heart breaks over the news coming out of Israel & the Palestinian territories right now. The Sheikh Jarrah situation was the spark that ignited the current violence, an unrest that is always simmering beneath the surface, and current Israeli extremist leadership (i.e. Netanyahu) only exacerbates an already volatile situation. My whole life, when I lived there and after, I have been wishing for peace and it still feels as far away as ever.

(Picture I took while visiting Israel and the West Bank in November of 2008).

More than 70 years of this conflict and no end in sight. When will it be enough?

Jerusalem

I can barely contain my anger over the idiot Trump move to open a US embassy in Jerusalem, and on the eve of Israeli independence too, which Palestinians call the ‘Nakba‘, a time when many Palestinians were displaced in 1948. There goes any remnant of hope for peace in Israel-Palestine… My thoughts are very much there today and in my birth-city of Jerusalem…

Because I am thinking of Jerusalem so much, several songs called ‘Jerusalem’ keep popping up in my head. Most of all the song ‘Jerusalem’ by Sinead O’Connor is playing in my mind… I so can relate to the intensity in this…

Or ‘Jerusalem’ by Dutch singer Anouk…

Or the (not brilliant but catchy) German entry for the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1999 called ‘Reise nach Jerusalem’ (‘Journey to Jerusalem’), sung in German and Turkish, with a little English thrown in and at the very end Hebrew (they came in 3rd that year)…

Or the song ‘Crusader’ by Chris de Burgh, which is a very iffy, one-sided heroic view of the Christians as heroes during the crusades of the Middle Ages. Despite that, I do love the musicality of this song and the repeated line “Jersualem is lost” feels very fitting…

And there’s the Jerusalem song I remember best from my childhood, called Yerushalayim shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)…

Despite the unholy alliance between Trump and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, I still try to cling to hope for peace for Jerusalem and the region, even though a peaceful two-state solution feels very very far away right now…

Jerusalem 2008

Will there ever be true peace one day in Jerusalem?

Oh, Jerusalem…

… what will happen now after Trump’s latest narrow-minded, selfish move? My heart goes out to you!

I love Jerusalem. I was born there, have lived there, have gone to school there, have visited many times after living there. It has always been a problematic city, home to the holiest sites of the 3 large monotheistic religions. The picture on the left was taken from behind/on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus is said to have been crucified). The picture on the right is of the Dome of the Rock (where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven) with the holy Western Wall in front of it (part of the Jewish Second Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD).

And a few more pictures: my dad with my son at the Western Wall, my kids with cousins inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the closest we could get to the Dome during our 2008 visit, which was closed to non-Muslim visitors due to the whole conflict (I had visited there before, however, when there was more hope for peace).

These sites are very close to each other; the Holy Sepulchre is only about a 10 minute walk away from the Western Wall and the Western Wall is literally part of the outer wall of the piece of land on which the Al Aqsa Mosque & Dome of the Rock are situated. The sites and the feelings they evoke are so closely tied together, there is a real reason why the question of the status of Jerusalem is a very difficult one in the whole peace process… I just hope that what Donald Trump has done now won’t endanger a process that is already extremely delicate and fragile as is… I just hope that it will remain possible to walk peacefully through the Old City…

IMG_0916

… and that this bumbling fool of an American president hasn’t destroyed too much with his short-sighted foreign ‘policy’. If I were a religious person I’d be praying harder than ever for peace in Jerusalem now.

Rest in peace, Shimon Peres

And peace is the operative word here as he fought for it in the Middle East for many years…

shimon-peres

He wasn’t always like that, he began his career as a hardliner, was known as a ‘hawk’ who later changed his ideas and became a peacemaker, a ‘dove’ so to speak. His ideas on peace for the Middle East, the Oslo Accords he helped achieve, gave me such hope in the mid 1990s! He won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Oslo Accords…

peres-nobel
The Nobel Peace prize laureates for 1994 in Oslo: PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin.

Sadly, the peace I had so hoped for never really happened… Things went haywire after Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and with Netanyahu as president then and again now, all real peace endeavors seem to be vaporized. I have lived in Israel and the fact that the peace process is stuck after the hope there was 20 years ago still breaks my heart.

I have been watching Peres’s funeral on TV here this morning and Bill Clinton’s  and Barack Obama’s speeches were very powerful to me. Like them, I still hope for such dreamers as Shimon Peres to stand up in the Middle East and make the dreams for peace come true.

Shimon Peres, alav ha-shalom (peace be upon him). And may peace be upon the whole region hopefully one day.