I’m losing sleep over rockets and airstrikes and war crimes in Israel and Palestine. And also about the widespread mentality that this is a story where one ethnicity is a hero and another is a villain.
Today I breathed a small sigh of relief to see The New York Times’ morning newsletter acknowledge the situation in Israel/Palestine without the short-sighted, one-sided meme format I’ve seen most everywhere else. Before laying out some of the basics of the Israel/Palestine sitch, Times writer David Leonhardt wrote,
“I recognize that some readers are deeply versed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with strong views about it. And they may bristle at the above description as false equivalence. But I also know that most readers of this newsletter do not follow every turn in the Mideast and often find it bewildering...”
“False equivalence”: My readers might accuse me of that as well.
I’ve read a lot of angry Facebook posts this week accusing others of false equivalence, otherwise known as bothsidesism. And when it comes to things like spherical Earth vs. flat Earth, I don’t have any patience for bothsidesism either. (Duh, the Earth is obviously flat, right? Just kidding just kidding just kidding.)
But I fully believe you can want self-determination and safety for Palestinians without insisting Jews don’t deserve the same. (And vice versa, of course.)
I’m afraid if I admit the 10 days I spent in Israel was ironically the first time in my life I felt fully safe as a Jew, I’ll be called a Palestinian-hating monster. A colonizer. A murder apologist.
What about if I tell you my daughter is named after Zivia Lubetkin, who as part of the Jewish Underground in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, led her Jewish community in fighting back against the Nazis? Pretty cool, right? Well, what if I mention my daughter’s namesake wasn’t just a badass; she was without question a Zionist, who said,
“However, apart from all the different approaches, we were all aware of one thing: we could not rebuild our ruined lives in Poland. … We saw before us tens of thousand of Jews and knew that the only solution for them was to get them out to Eretz Israel immediately.”
Since I’m getting into mushy feelings territory here, I think I need to admit I’m not planning to engage in the comments section. I just do not have it in me. I’m sorry.
I've been really stressed about this all week: losing sleep; typing and deleting Facebook posts after Facebook posts (I haven’t actually posted even one of those posts); not even feeling comfortable speaking about it with my own wonderfully leftist, gentile husband.
I’m not trying to center myself in any of this. But I also don’t see any virtue in silence. So I'll just say this...
The situation is fucked. But you can want self-determination and safety for the Palestinian people (I really do) while also wanting it for Jews (I really do).
You can oppose many of the actions of the Israeli government (I really do) without simply superimposing your American understanding of white colonizers stealing Indigenous land onto Jews and Arabs. (Both our peoples are Indigenous to the land.)
You can want Palestinians to be safe while also realizing most Israelis are there because there was nowhere else safe they or their ancestors were allowed to be, so sometimes overly simplistic calls of support for Palestinians sound like an insistence that Jews just need to stop existing already.
You can acknowledge (I do) that the situation is probably more complicated than you understand, and you're bringing your own biases to the table (I know I am). You can care about more than one thing at once (I do). You can be angry about more than one thing at once (I am).
Yes, I am angry about dead children, the vast majority of them Palestinian. I am very, very angry and sad and angry and sad and angry and sad.
Besides that — besides ongoing empathy and an insistence that there aren’t just both sides worth hearing, but countless sides — I’ve got nothing. I’m sorry. There are countless sides and takes and emotions and opinions and lives and dreams and ideas and fears, and I care about every single one, and it’s overwhelming and exhausting. And that’s just thinking about it, not even living it.
I’m raising my child with the privilege of safety, and I’m thinking about all the children in the world who don’t have that safety. I desperately want world peace, but I don’t see us reaching it through dehumanization.
So in the hopes of seeing more empathy and fewer memes, I just want to share the aforementioned NYTimes link from this morning’s newsletter, and then I’m going to go scream into a pillow. Then I’ll take some deep breaths and play a board game with my kid. And be endlessly thankful we’re not dodging bombs.
Wishing for peace. For everyone.