Healing collective trauma will lead to peace in the Holy Land

The author and Brit Olam founder, Ofer Lifschitz, visiting Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2004. Photo: (DeLear/Lifschitz)

There’s a common misperception that the constant state of warfare and conflict that besets the Holy Land, Eretz Israel, or in Arabic, Bilad Ash’ Sham, is a result of some cultural or racial flaw—“oh, they’ve been fighting for two thousand years, they’ll never stop.”

Even the most cursory examination of human history reveals skirmishes, battles, and wars, interwoven throughout our timeline, have been perpetrated by all religions, races, and cultures. People are people. And a kinder gentler human civilization can be had, but it has to be taught, and then walked.

As I observed in a report on the Holy Land in 2009—contrary to popular belief—history’s wars and military campaigns have been launched largely due to political agendas, power struggles, or naked resource/land grabs—and although often cloaked in religious trappings—religion has primarily been used as a war-making tool; to mobilize foot soldiers, and rally public opinion when necessary.

Humans are pack animals (viz. “leader of the pack”, not “backpack”), and in modern civilization, we have been arranged into herds within herds; overlapping groupings and interchangeable associations, class, race, religion. But in order to change the perpetual dynamic of two warring peoples, polarized, locked in conflict—efforts must be taken to bring the poles together. This can be accomplished through education by blurring ethnocentric distinctions, emphasizing the universality of what it means to be human—our basic needs, hopes, and dreams. A facet of this ‘coming together’ process involves a sincere effort to understand the life experiences and background of the different societies at play—to be aware—and especially—to empathize with individual and/or group trauma.

While working with an inspiring new organization called the Euphrates Institute, founder Janessa Gans relayed a profound concept from Palestinian nonviolence activist Sami Awad with the Holy Land Trust

“It is up to the Palestinians to do what the international community has failed to do for the Jewish people: to heal the trauma they have experienced.”

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Tom Friedman to Israel. You’re driving drunk

Message from America to the Israeli government: Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And right now, you’re driving drunk. You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality. Call us when you’re serious. We need to focus on building our country.

Haaretz echoes the sentiment.

Netanyahu is trading Israeli security for right-wing ideology

There is one reason for the crisis: Netanyahu’s persistence in continuing construction in East Jerusalem, in placing Jews in Arab neighborhoods and evicting Palestinians from their homes in the city

Clinton made clear to Netanyahu that it was impossible to expand Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and also enjoy America’s friendship. Netanyahu’s flip-flopping games have come to an end. Even at the price of risks involving domestic party politics, he should opt for what is in the national interest and act to strengthen American support for Israel.

Israel needs to realize without the economic and military support of the US that it would be smoking rubble. Then act accordingly. And the US needs to put rights of Palestinians equal with those of Israelis. Palestinian had their land was stolen from them. They need a place to call home. There will not be peace until they do.

Both quotes via Andrew Sullivan.

Heart of Jenin. Palestinian father of son killed by Israeli troops donated his organs to Israeli children

Ismael Khatib

Andy Carling tells about the documentary film, Heart of Jenin.

One year later, [the father, Ismael Khatib] toured round Israel in the company of German film maker, Marcus Vetter, and visited five of the children who had received transplants. Asked why, Khatib said, “It’s not about politics, about Jews or Arabs, it’s about human beings. I see my son in these children.” The resulting film, Heart of Jenin, is neither mawkish or sentimental, but uncomfortable viewing, dealing with the divides between peoples and the complexities of individual responses to the conflict.

Both Israeli and Palestinian film festivals initially refused to show it then relented.