Things aren’t so simple in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Both sides, Jews and Arabs, need to repent”, my friend and rabbi Chaim Gruber told me when I asked his opinion.
In seven weeks my (Messianic Christian Zionist) mind got totally at loggerheads after meeting all different kind of people; from left Jews to religious zionists, Palestinian activists and Arab Christians.
During my trip many people asked me if I believe in God. For the first time in my life, with all the hate, war and different opinions in mind, I didn’t know what to say. Well, I hope there’s a God out there who, as the famous Dutch soccer player Johan Cruijf once said, “arranges it all”.
On the other hand, out of all confusion there’s one clear thing I can conclude: It’s all about love. And God is love, so yes, God probably exists.
This conflict and country isn’t only about a piece of land, it’s also a clash between religions, traditions and honour. As I said, everyone has different mindsets, opinions and gods. Defining truth is a hard thing, just as reaching peace. I don’t have any hope for a short-term solution of the conflict, especially with the right wing Prime Minister Netanyahu in charge.
In my eyes, Netanyahu didn’t seem to care a lot about a solution for the conflict. Despite the war, life goes on for most Israeli’s, but Palestinians from the West Bank and even more Gaza don’t have a bright future prospective. The most urgent problem to solve should be the conflict, but the Israeli political focus seems to be more on economy, housing and Jewish religious issues. In the meanwhile Hamas is raising a new young generation in Gaza – with the highest unemployment rate in the world – to fight against Israel. Although I have to say that there are some rumors at the moment about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Peace is forgotten. An impossible goal. An illusion. But there are some lights in the darkness of hate and prejudices on both sides. For example, I met a really good guy, a Jewish orthodox man, who really cares about reconciliation between Jews and Arabs. After the burning of a Palestinian baby in the West Bank, peace activist Eliyahu McLean organised an anti-violence demonstration with Jewish settlers and Arabs standing side by side.
Eliyahu, who works for the NGO Jerusalem Peacemakers, was also my guide during a trip through Hebron, where amongst tens of thousands of Arabs a Jewish community of seven hundred people is located. He told briefly the history about this holy city in Judaism and Islam. One of the most cruel stories about Hebron is the 1929 Arab massacre on seventy Jews. “Dozens of classes with Jewish children who come here on a school trip are being told this history every year”, Eliyahu told in a memorial museum. “But there are also stories of hope, with Arabs risking their life by protecting their Jewish friends. There should be a museum for them as well.”
After all, did I turn from pro-Israel to pro-Palestinian? I’m against a blind religious zionist love for Israel. But I also still strongly support a Jewish homeland. They just have to do it together with those who want to live with them in harmony, wether they are Arab, Muslim, Christian or whatever. I’m pro-peace.