THE BLOG
07/16/2014 09:45 am ET Updated Sep 15, 2014

A Different Perspective Needed on Middle East Conflict

It's déjà view all over again.

A spark ignites in the region, people on both sides lose their lives, their homes, their sense of security -- and immediately the cheerleading begins.

"Israel has a right to defend itself" declare the supporters of Israel. "The Israelis are occupying Palestinian land" cry Palestinians sympathisers. One side pointing fingers, the other side pointing them right back. Over and over the same accusations and defences are repeated. Jews support Israel; Arabs support the Palestinians.

It's getting more than a bit old.

What is most frustrating, and unfortunate, is how neither side ever changes their perspective. Year after year, decade after decade, the same problems arise and the same defensive postures are immediately taken. It's as if neither party actually cares about solving the issue at hand, only that the other side is wrong.

I wonder, what is the real purpose of your support? Why do you write letters and argue with friends and take to the streets? Do you actually care for the well-being of the people involved or do you simply wish to be on a team?

Your mix of high moral outrage and extreme self-centeredness is a special brand of hypocrisy.

For if those involved -- supporters and policy makers alike -- truly cared about the innocent people in the region, then they would stop cherishing the other side's past transgressions. Considering the real human suffering taking place on the ground, mentioning 1967 borders or the right of return or who did what is a broken record I would be humiliated to spin again.

My family was devastated by the Holocaust and my father served in the Israeli army, yet my default setting is not to choose a side. I am able to see when Israel's hand is too strong, I can admit to the foolishness of new settlements, and I believe that Jews -- the last people to be put into ghettos -- now themselves ghettoizing others is a coincidence worthy of deep spiritual and psychological reflection.

And it is in this spirit of wider and unbiased perspective that Palestinians and their supporters should re-examine how they look at things. Perhaps even learn from your Jewish neighbors, a people who've had to live with occupation and suffering, who accepted the bitterness of unfair and harsh realities and focused instead on survival and a better way forward.

Both sides need a long look in the mirror.

Because things need to change and seeing only the wrong-doing of the other is the best way to ensure the status quo continues. Yet that is what you do, each and every time. So one would be safe to assume that your priorities lay in winning the argument, not helping those most vulnerable. Apparently when it comes to the Middle East, prejudice is stronger than common sense and ego trumps empathy.

Speaking of empathy. Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as the "the action of understanding and being sensitive to... the feelings and experience of another." Without adding an empathic perspective to your practical considerations, you are dooming the cycle to continue. A lack of empathy is the surest way to ensure a lack of progress.

And without progress those you purport to care so deeply about will continue to suffer. It is therefore the duty of all those involved, from the letter writer to the person on the ground, to relegate the base emotions of anger and pride to the back of the room. Put your personal allegiances and nearsightedness away. It's shameful that you still bring them to the table.