Coming to Our Senses

This week marks the 48th anniversary of the Six-Day War in Israel. It is the anniversary of the state of euphoria which existed in Israel after the defeat of so many of its neighbors. After all, some months before June, 1967, people were not sure if the State would survive and in fact mass graves were prepared, just in case. This was also the time when the occupation started, when the Palestinians began to understand what life would become. The idea of settlements reared its ugly head and a frenzy of development brought changes to the geography and view. If only we had realized then what repercussions would come out of this idea, and of how we could have avoided building cities which later would be destroyed like something out of a science fiction film. How much energy, money and labor were spent which could have gone to education, health and environment? Dare I say it, also the pursuit a fair reconciliation process for both sides.

This week Israel was saved by the skin of its teeth from being kicked out of FIFA. One one can't help wonder if not being able to compete in international football would have have been a catalyst for the man in the street who loves his football, to start to understand that the occupation cannot go on without consequences. Shades of South Africa. Surely banning South Africa from all international sporting events was a good part of the beginning of the end of the Apartheid movement. The BDS movement has also come to the forefront in the media. The consequences of activities may not be felt in the average pocket in Israel but it is surely a sign of what could happen. I worry about the motivation of these boycotts. I have no problem with marking goods from the occupied territories but if the message of the churches which boycott is love, then perhaps they would take all of the divested money and reinvest it in programs of reconciliation. Then maybe we could understand an altruistic message rather than one of taking sides. I love Israel and have no wish to have it brought to its' knees. I want us to be brought to our senses.

Our morals and ethics must be affected by the prolonged occupation of another nation. We cannot expect that young boys of eighteen, regardless of their normative background would not be changed by having to police a civilian population, by having to stand at check points and make decisions far beyond the wisdom of their years. Yes, we face worries about the safety of our future every day. Our fears are greatly encouraged by our political leaders. Yes, it is true that these fears which are indeed justifiable create hatred and violence. And yes, this fear is spurred on by the shooting of rockets onto civilian targets and the creation of tunnels leading to unexpected and horrific consequences, and yet perhaps we, as the stronger of the two parties should look for a solution to the cycle of violence.

Yet there are glimmers of hope. This week we saw a Cross Borders Concert held at Kibbutz Kfar Aza - a hair breath away from Gaza. Hundreds gathered under a starry sky to listen to Mozart's Requiem, dedicated to all the victims of the Gaza war, with the understanding that the ability to identify the pain of the other, and see their humanity is a vital step in creating dialog which is the start of conciliation. For one moment everyone forgot the daily trials of living in a conflict which should have ended years ago and were transported into a sense of hope for the future. I hope and wish that the music was heard over the border and that it also brought some relief and hope to the Palestinians who were so hard hit in the war over the summer. It was really important to identify with people on both sides who after all only want to get up in the morning and know that in the future their children will also be safe. In these dark days with leaders who do not seem to have a vision for a peaceful future, one can only hope for many more of these moments of reaching out to "the other"