Lilac Sigan Headshot

It's Time to Stop Choosing Sides

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AP
AP

It's not easy to admit, but in a way, all humans enjoy a good fight. We examine the opponents, evaluate them on our own or by what others say, and choose sides. We decide who is wrong and who is right, who should win and who should lose, but by doing so, we encourage the fight, not the truce. Sadly, that's exactly what has been happening with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After Obama's hopeful visit to the region, John Kerry is due for a second trip, and this is how he'll be welcomed. In the past few days, terror groups in Gaza broke the ceasefire and shot missiles into the south of Israel, and Israel retaliated. Two Palestinians were killed while hurling firebombs at an IDF post in the West Bank, and this roused more anger, more rioting, more hate. You can decide who is "right" and who is "wrong", but with such a long history of the conflict you'd have to go back very far to understand the chain of events, and probably get pretty confused along the way.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has too much history, and the history is its core. My parents, for instance, were children during the war of '48, and I myself have fearful memories from the bomb shelters as a small child in the '67 war. My teenage daughters have already experienced the fear of suicide bombers and have lived through two wars. Most Israelis and Palestinians were born into this situation -- it is all they know, and most of them joined it from some point in time when it was already the reality defining their lives. So in this endless conflict, who is right and who is wrong?

The Arab world had rejected the legitimacy of Israel right from the start, and the Palestinian leadership that emerged within time followed it. The attempts to reach an agreement were rejected by the Palestinian leadership, and in the meantime, Israel kept building the settlements in the West Bank, despite the fact that if the sides were to ever reach an agreement, this area would belong to the Palestinian state. You can argue forever over which side is right and which is wrong, and support your arguments with endless details, no matter which side you support. But this arguing has become irrelevant, because the very arguing is the conflict. It doesn't really matter which side you take, because along more than 65 years both sides have been right, and both sides have been wrong.

The opinions vary; some see only the suffering of the Palestinians, some see only the terror and continuous threats on the Israeli side. Both are right: The Palestinians deserve statehood, the Israelis deserve peace and security. The events that accumulated over the years are so numerous, that anyone can easily choose which facts are more important in order to pick a side and strongly support it, while ignoring the rest.

I could try to convince you which side is right, but the sad truth is that by arguing for only one side, you only keep feeding the fire of hate. Whether you're Israeli or Palestinian or someone who views this from afar, if you choose a side, you are actually choosing to prolong the conflict. You don't encourage the truce, but the fight.

Maybe it's time to understand that this is not the way to achieve peace, or any kind of resolution. Maybe it's time to understand that if international pressure will not shift into convincing both sides to leave their historical pain behind, we'll just be stuck in the same place, each side in its corner, waiting for the next round. It may be harder than picking sides, but that's what peace is all about: It's about stopping violence and making concessions on both sides, because the continuous pointless support of one of them, only breathes more life into the fight.