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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why?

Why do I care? Should I? Some people ask me about the conflict and maybe they are really wanting to know the answer to that question. Maybe Palestinians wonder, too. Or maybe it makes sense to them. I don’t know. I’ve thought about it some.

I’m white. I’m not Palestinian nor have I been to the Middle East. I’m an American. I come from a very Blue family. I should be buying what Israel and the US are selling. I should be like my fellow Americans and not care about Gaza.

Some might say, she married a half Palestinian guy and has to care. He grew up here and isn’t really an activist. We live here. Perhaps he’s the reason I began to ask why, but not the reason I hold the opinions I do. He did ask me a question very early on when we dated about what I thought about the conflict- what did my religion say about who’s right, who do I think has the right to the land. I told him I didn’t know (I wasn’t a news addict by any stretch at that point), and we talked about other things, but my curiosity was piqued permanently. Whether or not we were to get married some 10 years later was irrelevant (as my research continued during a “relationship hiatus”). I now wanted to find out what the Bible said about this, what our government’s position was, what are the facts on both sides. Who would end up being justified by their actions and should I as a Christian stand behind Israel as some people have said? Needless to say, I encountered a lot more than I bargained for. I made some early decisions about what I was reading and hearing and formed some opinions I still have today, but there was so much to consider that I don’t know that I can say today that one’s right and the other’s wrong absolutely. You can look at individual issues and say suicide bombing, settlements or house demolitions are wrong or against international law. What is justified by “self-defense” on either side is not as conclusive. Then you get into one’s self-defense at the expense of the other; one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. Hamas rocket attacks are wrong, but is the scale of the Israeli attacks justified? Where would Palestinians be if none of them fired back at Israel - would the world know half as much as we do about this or would there be any Palestinians left to tell the tale? Would Israel or the international community give them a state of their own for sitting back and taking whatever Israel dished out with no retaliation? This is only the tip of the iceberg.

I suppose a desire to find out the truth or facts is a reason to care, but there is more. The conflict is more than fact sheets and a blame game.

When you see pictures of dead Gazan kids online or on TV, maybe you think it’s a shame, maybe you think they got what they deserved for being related to a suspected Hamas supporter, going to school or shopping in a place where possible Hamas supporters also go. You see them. Collateral damage. It happens. This is war, after all. Maybe you pity them, maybe you don’t. It’s not the same as seeing the dead on 9/11 or fallen soldiers in Iraq. Those people look like us. Heroes, they are called. Those brown people are suspect: they resemble Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden more than us.

When I see those pictures, which I try to avoid, I want to throw up. I see human beings. Contrary to popular belief and media coverage, they do in fact have names and families, just like us. I see the eyes of my children; I see my husband, father-in-law, brothers and sisters-in-law, journalists I like to read, people speaking out against injustice, people working for peace, people surviving conditions that I don’t know that I could with a sense of humor. Perhaps it’s easier not to identify with them in any way. Vilify them to ease your conscience. That way there’s no blame (except for those others), but no justice either, and hence no peace.

But I'm as bad as everyone else, so this rant is for me, too. I care, I identify with Palestinians through family. Why not blog about Darfur? Do they not look enough like me do deserve my attention? Then again, are we telling them other refugees that it's their fault they are being attacked and blockaded? The Palestinian situation is a bit unique.

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