Balance on Palestine …

A reader emphasizes the need for both sides of the story to be told.

I appreciate your intention to respond carefully and calmly to all questions of your mission to Israel and Palestine.
In an earlier response, you mentioned sharing with mainstream Israelis who uniformly agree with your perspective on Israel’s failures and the consequent subjugation of the Palestinian people, without any hint of the failure of the enemies of Israel. I believe this is an honest statement of your experience. But it is not mine.

Sorry – I don’t think I said that all the mainstream israelis we met uniformly agreed on anything, only that some shared our concerns. But I very much agree with what you say next (after the jump)…

When I was in Israel and Palestine in 2006 and 2007, I met with Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestinian (Christian) owner of a radio station in Bethlehem was seriously afraid that his station would be shut down by the Palestinian governing authority because he shared a multiplicity of viewpoints. I met with a couple of Israeli fathers in Tel Aviv who had lost their high school daughters in suicide bombings of bus stops. They were angry, sad, grieving and glad the the Wall had been erected because, in their opinion, it would protect other innocent children. I visited Sderot on the border with Gaza in 2007. On the day I was there leading a group of clergy, six quassom rockets had landed in the town. The mayor and citizens were adamant that stronger measures must be taken to protect their people. I was not allowed to go into Palestinian controlled Hebron because without escort the danger was too great for our group. When I met with the head of the independent Palestinian Human Rights group, he spoke of the numerous human rights abuses of the Palestinian Authority agains their own citizens. In Israel, I met with military officer who job it was to investigate the scene after a bombing, including gathering body parts. He spoke of returning home to his family and children completely devastated emotionally. He investigated over forty bombings before he finished his duty. When I spoke with him he was deeply angry and very supportive of every effort Israel took to protect its citizens.
Your report mentions none of these realities. Rather it paints a picture that is all too simplistic and all too common. Once the complexity of the situation on the ground is reduced to simplistic assignments of blame and innocence, reality is surrendered and so is the possibility of real peace between grieving enemies.
I’m interested in holding on to the complexity while not surrendering the quest for justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Again, I’ve tried hard to avoid “simplistic assignments of blame and innocence.” But that aside, I agree with you, and have said so repeatedly: we need solutions that are pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-justice, and pro-peace. Terrible things have been done by people on all sides, and the wrongs of one are used to justify the responses of the other so the cycle continues. My sense is that nearly all of us in the US have heard a lot about the terrible effects of missiles and suicide bombings on Israelis, but many of us haven’t heard the other side of the story, but again, you’re right: we all need to hear both sides. And we need to truly care for the concerns on both sides, because God loves Israelis and Palestinians the same.