Last week I sat on a bench along Jaffa Road eating gelato, mourning the US World Cup loss to Germany, watching stylish Israelis and American Birthright trips walk along the light rail tracks enjoying the cool evening air and the spectacular, European-esque people watching of Jerusalem. WE all sat there in our cafes, bars and bakeries without the thought of three missing teenage boys or hundreds of unjustly arrested Palestinians in our minds. Life was tense in the region, but quiet still in Israel, while the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus and more churned in conflict and the beginnings of possible third Intifada.
This week, the bodies of those children, torn from their families and their futures too young, were found in the West Bank and Jerusalem boils with Israeli rage and revenge against Palestinians and Arabs. Along Jaffa Road, where I sat with my gelato, revenge riots break out with demands for Palestinian blood and “justice”. Israeli leaders have stooped to the juvenile tactics of riot leaders, acting on impulse and emotion, declaring revenge on Palestinians, as if an entire people and culture could have possibly been involved in the deaths of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. As if the initial crackdown in the West Bank that we sat through and silently witness last week wasn’t horrible enough, the international community has been lapse to document the horrible actions of the Israeli government and military in the West Bank this week.
While political tensions between these two cultures are basically inevitable and sometimes necessary, the community backlash against innocent civilians, children, mothers, husbands, teachers, is inexcusable and despicable. I find it revolting that in this age we have real accounts of lynch mobs and demands for blood from an entire culture. It as if every Palestinian is considered to be radical, violent, angry and bloodthirsty. My experience in Israel and Palestine was universally welcoming all around. I often found that besides orthodox religious dress, the only differentiating characteristic of most of the people that I met was which language I could speak to them in easiest.
T\Israelis and Palestinians have lived on the same land for thousands of years, Muslims and Jews and Christians all protecting the land that is so sacred to them. It is astonishing to me that blood could be shed and hate this vivid could be felt on such a sacred land. I acknowledge the idealism in my statements, but I believe that it is vital that we agree to coexist in peace, rather than continue on for the next two thousand years living in violence, fear and hatred.
It hurts me, as it should hurt the entire global community, to hear of the death of Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, at age 16, his charred body found in East Jerusalem ages before death should have even crossed his mind. Yet, many Palestinians live their entire lives with this thought and fear, due to cross-cultural misunderstanding and imbedded, ignorant hatred.
As time moves on, I hope that international acknowledgment of the current situations grows. Not only do we have to complain and protest such Israeli actions, both by the riots and lynch mobs and the Israeli government and Netanyahu, we must take substantial action against the violent politics of the state of Israel in order to protect the future of the Palestinian people. Only with action like boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, will we be able to eventually show the world how little patience we have for ignorant violence and hatred. However, right now, acknowledgment of the human rights violations and murders occurring on both sides in the region is vital to ending of such travesties.