Hi. Hello. Happy Wednesday. Wednesday has come and I’m once again, kind of scrambling with this post.
This post was not the intended post. By any means. I actually had a post scheduled 2 weeks in advance (a two parter spread across two weeks) and I’ve moved both posts to drafts for now (yep- the email subscribers got the first one, but it’s now back to drafts and off the blog/site for now). Call it protecting myself and others’ space, peace, and mental health.
The world has felt like a dark and scary place of recent. Probably since the start of the v-word-that-shall-not-be-utter-or-written (seriously…have you seen the lengths that some go to to avoid getting that links ding?!). Realistically we’ve been spiraling on a trajectory for quite some time that Social Media and the 24-hour news cycle has flamed and then that global pandemic brought everything right front and center for so many.
This has been a good thing. We’ve seen quite a bit of progress in quite a few different areas. We’ve brought to light issues in ways that haven’t succeeded in the past. We’ve laid bare areas we are sorely lacking (or rather totally losing).
However, it’s also brought a lot of tension.
I might as well just come right out and say it.
I didn’t want to talk about the Israel/Palestine conflict. I DON’T want to talk about the Israel/Palestine conflict. And you might be saying, “Ok, well then don’t” and after this non statement post that probably doesn’t need to exist, I won’t be. There are a wide variety of reasons for this, not the least of which being that I am privileged enough to live in a country that is not in a constant state of terror or war. I think that those of us in the West cannot ignore the fact that we do not live in this environment and we are not exposed to the specifics of this situation every second of every minute of every day. When we share these info graphics (that cannot even begin to conceptualize the reality of everything- but we won’t even begin that), we are thinking that we are “bringing light to an unseen/unheard situation”. While some facets of this may be correct (like Sheikh Jarrah, which we will get to in a moment), this conflict has gone on for far much longer than that and will probably continue to go on far past this trending incident.
And, to be honest, both sides can go tit for tat over who started, who escalated, who has it worst, who loses, who wins, etc. till the end of time. We are seeing it now all-over social media. In fact, I was seeing a lot everywhere on Social Media, so much so that I went on a complete blackout. I logged off of everything, moved things away from my view, and silenced everything simply because it was TOO MUCH. There is so much being spread on both sides, so much tension, so much hatred, and it’s all PERSONAL. The condemnation happening is over a large group of people on both sides and all of the sharing, all of the commentary, all of the “let’s bring this to light” activism, while good in some cases, is also causing a lot of harm.
Save Sheikh Jarrah is an important cause. I do not think that any family or person should be forcefully evicted from their home. Let me repeat that, I DO NOT think that anyone should be forcefully removed from their home. To bring to light that this is happening is important and the world should recognize that it is WRONG. However, minimizing or highlighting the entirety of the Israel/Palestine conflict to this one cause is wrong. This conflict predates and supersedes what is happening in this neighborhood. Saving the neighborhood is necessary and allowing the families that are currently living there, that have built their lives and their families there to stay is absolutely necessary. But thinking that the entire conflict will come to an end by doing this, or thinking this will be a win, is wrong.
Another thing that is going around quite a bit is that the Israel/Palestine conflict is “not complicated” or “not nuanced”. That it is in fact quite “simple”. I hate when people say that something is “far too complicated and nuanced to sum up” as much as the next person, BUT we are talking about a dispute over a territory that is thousands of years old. It’s true that the Israel/Palestine conflict is not as old or as longstanding because Israel has only been in existence for ~70 years. However, this territory dispute? That dates back much further. We also cannot ignore the fact that religion IS at play here when the territory in question holds many of the holiest of sites across three different religions (Muslims, Christians, and Jews all have holy sites in Jerusalem). The original dispute over the territory is steeped in religion. And also, it’s being made to be about religion as people are equating Israel with Judaism (which is a multi-faceted argument in and of itself) and choosing to take this time to spew absolutely atrocious Jewish hatred (because antisemitism as a word is becoming to…easily pushed aside) as well as islamophobia. So, no it’s not simple. The Israel/Palestine conflict is just one more facet of a much larger dispute and we cannot ignore that fact.
AND, with all of that stated, most of the people in the region just want to live their lives. They want to worship where they worship, they want to live how they live, and they want to exist with their neighbors and friends. And they DESERVE to have that. We all deserve to have that. When we listen to the everyday people of the region, to those on the ground they just want peace. They want their homes and their families to live freely. They don’t want to live in this kind of fear, fear that we in the West are privileged enough to have not known. We cannot ignore that fact when we are trying to advocate.
Where am I going with this? I don’t know. I don’t really have an answer for any of it. I don’t have the knowledge or full understanding to truly talk about this. What I am struggling with is the sharing of info graphics that are at their best one sided, and at their worst completely wrong. The problem with us in the West sharing all of the “things” is that we aren’t actually helping the situation, no matter what our intentions are. We are simply adding gasoline to a 3-alarm fire and going about our lives. I would encourage everyone to get information, watch video, read testimonials from people across the region and share with care. I understand sharing feels like doing something in what may feel like a hopeless situation, but please just read through or double check what you are sharing before doing so. You may be unknowingly causing more harm than help.