I have been processing the situation in Palestine and Israel since the latest round of attacks commenced. I have wanted to write about it. But what can one say?
It is devastating. It is wrong. We all think and we all say very similar things. And I have questioned what writing about it will do. A friend encapsulated it perfectly in his Facebook status last week; the innocent who are caught up highlight the tragedy of it, the innocent on both sides, all sides. And that is what we all respond to. That is what captures our emotions and escalates our grief. But what after that?
The conflict itself is ages old. It does no good to point fingers all that way back. In the modern world, it is easy to blame Israel, a formerly displaced nation of people. However, as we all know there are innocent people on all sides. I am upset that Israel, so heavily supported by the US, whose people suffered so keenly during World War Two, have not chosen to demonstrate that we, as humans, can learn and grow and change. That the powers there believe it is okay to do what was done to them, actions that still scar the generations that follow.
It really does trouble me. As the daughter of a German-born father, who was only four when the war ended, I have carried some of the shame and responsibility that Germany has carried. I have always taught Holocaust awareness. I have also taught about Israel and Palestine. What is happening was predictable. But we did nothing to stop what was inevitable.
Travelling to Europe in 2010 was illuminating for me. My sister and I went to the Terezin Camp in what is now the Czech Republic, in metres of snow and very cold temperatures, very rugged up. It was very moving. To know that people suffered there, especially children, through no fault of their own. And then to Berlin, where the people have tried to acknowledge what was grievously wrong through remembering it. We visit these places, we build memorials, so that we remember the history, in the hope that we will not repeat it. But we do not control what those in power do, and it is times like these that remind us that we really are the puppets of those ‘in charge’.
We say we are the smartest of all species because we act beyond instinct alone. Hmmm … food for thought there. I strongly doubt our intelligence and our sanity as a species. Our smarts have ensured that we destroy our planet, our local environments, other species and ourselves. If this is smart, give me instinct. Our quest for power has made us thieves. And has made us inhuman.
And so, what good does writing about it do?
Probably not much, if anything. I wish I knew what I could do to change it. I wish I possessed the courage to find out and to do it.
We trust our governments to act on our behalf. We trust our governments to protect us. I think though, that governments are eroding this trust. Not just through their inaction in Palestine/Israel or their poor action in supporting one side over the other, but through their own governance at home, or lack thereof.
People suffer everywhere, every day. I don’t. I am happy. I am blessed. And I am grateful for that but I wonder if it has made me complacent as I have aged. People warned me that my idealism and my passion would dwindle as I aged and I cheekily scoffed at them, reminding them that it was a choice to be outraged.
So with regards to this issue, once I would have fired up and become angry, demanding justice by joining groups and writing letters. I have always prided myself on the notion that I don’t stand idly by when injustice reigns. And in my work I hope to inspire the children I teach and the colleagues I work with to continue the fight for us, our kids, and the longevity of our profession. But even that isn’t as fervently chased as it used to be.
And so I write. As children are bombed. Killed. Destroyed.
But what else is there for me to do?