I'm just gonna say, today's post might feel like whip lash, seeing as how I was just gabbing about things to do in Paris and fashion week. I started this blog to talk about things that interest me. Gaza interests me, fashion interests me, health, art, travel, reading & hiking interest me. So I'm just going to talk about all of it, ok?
I have been to Israel and Palestine twice and it's a place I just can't get enough of. I love the culture, the food, the land, the history, and I have become completely compelled by the conflict in the region. While we were there we went to the southern part of the country to a village on the border of the Gaza strip to meet with an Israeli woman called Ronni. She showed us the pock-marks on her daughters home from a rocket landing in their garden this summer. She told us how all the woman and children left the village during the war for their safety. She explained the fear of hearing the drilling underneath them as militants were digging tunnels, and the loud noises at night from the Hamas army training on the beach. She told us about her good friend she is consistently in contact with in Gaza and how she is advocating for their freedom. Wait what?
Of all the people with the right to be polarized it would be her. Of all the people who shouldn’t want peace it should be her. If anyone should believe in the wall, it should really be her. Yet somehow she believes in and fights for the freedom of the Palestinians living in the Gaza strip. It was one of those deep breath moments, “I’m pretty sure I’m in the presence of greatness”.
The most powerful type of peacemaking comes from those, from whom it is least expected. How is it possible to be Ronni? Maybe she has grace because she knows them. Ronni knows her Palestinian friends name, and maybe this friend likes warm tea on cold days just like us. I bet she enjoys the beach and reading to her kids at night. She probably has guilty pleasure food and some quirky hobbies. She’s got some pet peeves and hidden talents. I bet she cries every night over the loss of her loved ones in this wretched war.
She’s not Hamas, she’s human.
Although that doesn’t solve the political conflict, it actually does. Ronni said people call her a dreamer for believing in peace. I think she’s a war-time hero.
Now, I know I’m at risk of sounding simple minded, so let me just say this – I understand Israel’s right and duty to protect its borders. I’m aware of the war this summer and the 450 rockets that were launched into Israeli land and I know that Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the international community. I'm also aware of the human rights violations in Gaza and the terrible situation they're in, a place which to some is considered the world's largest open air prison. These are all very real concerns that don’t have easy fixes, and I’m well aware it is beyond my scope of knowledge to discuss the political nuances of the region.
So, maybe we can’t partake in government to government negotiations, but human beings to human beings finding peace amongst themselves…it’s impact cannot be overstated. That is where peace starts and ends. It is, I believe, the best way forward.
I couldn’t help but think - if only the religious, who are meant to live and die by the command to love, if they could be the dreamers, if they could be the peacemakers, if WE were marked by loving our enemy – our war-time threatening our lives enemy…I think the world would be a different place. I just don’t think it could stay the same.