On Friday, I had this to say about the current situation in the Middle East:
“The unfortunate reality is that everywhere you turn there is not only bias but half-truths and unhelpful and inaccurate reporting coming out of the Middle East. I do know that the United States remains an ally to Israel and its peace and prosperity remain crucial. The current round of violence comes after a failed attempt at Middle East peace talks and the subsequent kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens.”
One of my oldest and dearest friends happens to be Palestinian. A fact I remained completely ignorant to until we were in our early-20’s and in college. Actually, it truly came to glaring attention after the September 11th attacks when one thing led to another and soon our conversations moved away from gossip about classmates and to the very real and mistreatment towards Arab Americans. My relationship with Jumana - that’s my friend - has never changed or wavered over the past 25 years except that we continue to cross this path of my necessity to move from a place of blissful ignorance when it comes to matters of the Middle East and she, thankfully, has no problem with education. We are both approach our respective roles with respect. There is no force to choose a side but simply facts because my struggle to understand issues of international concern is very real.
I have Jewish friends as well and once again their religion and place of birth have no bearing on our relationship. Just as with any relationship forged between two people from very different cultures, as long as there is a sense of understanding and, most importantly, respect even through the most difficult of conversations.
Having friends who lie on both sides of a decades old conflict does not mean that I know anything it just means that when I have questions - and lately, I have had many - I know who to go to and who will point me in the right direction of what is what. Which brings me to a realization that when it comes to this particular violence I find myself wavering when it comes to ‘sides’. My usual line of thinking when it comes to current events is that there is a more progressive side and then a conservative side. When it comes to deep rooted issues of race, religion and culture, I find myself stepping back because I am empathetic to the hurt from both sides but I also must acknowledge that as an American there is nothing remotely comparable.
For the last two weeks or so, I’ve been searching for information on what is going on. You know, news? That thing that is supposed to inform you of what is happening around the country and globe? Instead I have come across what I think people on both sides can agree is absolutely abysmal when it comes to anything on the Middle East coming from US media outlets. I mean absolute crap. On Sunday, only one show - CNN’s State of the Union - even mentioned the conflict via an appearance by Senator McCain who referred to Israel’s restraint as ‘admirable’. Then today when a ceasefire brokered by Egypt on Monday was rejected by Hamas to which Israel responded by saying that it would use more force against Gaza. I would feel worse about my inability to understand what is happening between Israel and Gaza if it weren’t for a lack of helpful coverage coming from mainstream media.
I spent an hour yesterday discussing my conflict over this conflict and pestering Jumana with questions because I am a person who enjoys knowing what is occurring in the world around me. Today I spoke with a friend who lives in Israel and asked her similar questions and made the same request for links because what was being shown here is not indicative of what is happening there. The only conclusion I have been able to come up with for myself is more education which has always been the crux of my quest to learn more more about the Middle East. In both conversations it is painfully clear that at a cease fire is needed, both sides want for the other to stop bombing. On both sides there is anger, deep heartbreak and a need for lasting human rights.
Much of curiosity and questioning is to where United States responsibility lies. Do we play a role in any cease fire? And why the lack of coverage on the fate of a country and area of the world where we have always said that peace is paramount?
Below are links to articles I have found most helpful in understanding the current situation in the Middle East. My hope is to pass along what I have learned from others and hopefully you pass it along as well and so on: