I feel anxious. It’s Day Thirty-One of the crisis between Israel and Gaza, with no resolution in sight. The seventy-two-hour cease-fire is scheduled to end Friday morning and Hamas is threatening to resume attacks. Israel has offered to extend the temporary truce, but it has been refused. Concessions seem unlikely. So, if rockets again take flight, Israel will hit back hard.
This war is somehow different from the previous ones. This time, we’ve been barraged on a daily basis with graphic videos, biased (on both sides) media alerts, Facebook rants, weekly rallies and protests, and a lot of different opinions. Everyone and anyone has some thought or reaction to what’s going on. Even the most unexpected people have spoken up – Jews and non-Jews alike – whether or not they know what they are talking about.
Did you hear this one? Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, two dating actors, condemned Israel’s military strikes as genocide! Genocide? Really? Wow. If I were their agents or publicists, I’d go find new clients because they are now headed down Mel Gibson’s downhill path!
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Fact: the Arab-Israeli conflict has raged for centuries. Fact: both sides want the land. Fact: both sides feel entitled to it. Fact: both sides see the situation completely differently.
Now, with my background as an educator: Pretend that you and I are facing each other, sitting on opposite sides of a table. Between us, on the table there is a mug. One side facing you and the other facing me. As you look at it, you see this:
If I were to ask you to describe the mug, you might say, “it’s a plain, white mug.” “Anything else?” I might ask. “Yes,” you might say, “it looks exactly like one that I have in my own kitchen. How’d you get it?”
I’d laugh. “What are you talking about?” I’d ask. “It’s not a plain white mug at all. And, it’s mine. It’s a mug that my son bought for me for Mother’s Day when he was a student at Cornell.”
Have I confused you? Well, maybe you’ll understand if I show you the side of the mug that I am looking at:
Therein lies the problem. (Yes, I’m over-simplifying.) Both parties see the same piece of property, but they disagree on how they got it and from whom; and even what it looks like. If they both want it, what’s the solution? Smash it to bits? Take turns using it? Share it? Buy another?
It may be easy to broker a compromise over a mug, but negotiating a peace agreement between enemies isn’t. It’s being said that a two-state solution is no longer an option. Is a one-state solution really possible? Even if both sides were to understand and see things through the other’s eyes, however, we can’t ignore the fact that one side wants the other dead and buried. I firmly believe that, if they had the chance, Hamas would blow up my mug and murder me. How can Israel — and Jews — get around that?
The clock seems to be ticking loudly. With every tick-tock my heart seems to beat harder, faster, louder. I can’t turn it off. Thirty-one days and counting.