Beyond taking sides: a call for mutual recognition in Mideast conflict

What's happening between Israelis and Palestinians is an epic tragedy. My personal analysis of the issue is pointless – some of the biggest brains of the past 100 years have tried to sort it out with little success.

I'm only going to weigh in with this question: Why is it required that a person take one side 100% and demonize the other? I don't get it at all. In order to pick a side, you have to wholly and completely ignore the suffering, the dreams, the aspirations, the history of the other. Why does a person have to ignore or lie about what happened on October 7 in Israel? Why does a person have to ignore or lie about what is going on right now in Gaza? I can't function this way — I won't function this way. 

It's probably going to cost me some friendships on both sides.

Here's Sharon Brous, a phenomenal thinker on the subject in an interview with Ezra Klein — yes, Brous is a rabbi, but she has worked tirelessly for decades to bridge the gap between the two sides, to find a way for each to recognize the other's essential humanity. 

She can proudly celebrate and defend the miracle of Israel's creation and bitterly denounce its awful policies toward the Palestinians. And do so with intelligence and moral courage. Here's an excerpt of that lengthy interview:

And so how can we, who desperately cry out for the world to take Jewish suffering seriously, not also have our own hearts break when Palestinians are suffering? It makes no sense. And so we must also make sure that we extend our circle of care and concern to include the innocents on the other side of that border, who really have nothing to do with this conflict and whose lives are in absolute misery right now…

And it feels to me, that is the essential struggle of this time, because I don't frankly want to hear from the people who are in the streets, who are shouting about decolonizing Palestine, who do not shed a tear when Vivian Silver, a 74-year-old warrior for peace, who dedicated her life to peace, is murdered by Hamas. If your heart doesn't break for Vivian Silver, then don't tell me what you think my heart should be breaking for.

And the same is true on the other side, for the people who are absolutely devastated by losses to Jews, but then feel it's offensive to even report on the Palestinian children who are dying in Gaza. I'm sorry, but we have lost our moral center. What we have to do is expand our scope of moral concern to find the humanity in one another again. That is the call of our time.

I take some comfort that maybe I'm not alone on my island.

See more Boing Boing stories about the Middle East.