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Issue: January 2013 Newsletter
My Inner Israeli and Inner Palestinian

By Susannah

Dear all, During a heated debate on the MM facebook at the height of the violence between Israeli and Gaza, following a suggestion Ruth Ben Tovim made I decided to explore a dialogue between my own “inner Israeli” and my own “inner Palestinian”. Here is what emerged:

My inner Israeli says:

“No-one understands, it’s the same as it always was, the world is out to condemn us, we are alone, unsupported, criticised. If we do not protect ourselves, no-one else will! The reason the mortality figures on each side are so dis-proportionate is not because the levels of aggression on each side was different, it’s simply that we have an effective shield in place that destroys the majority of their missiles in flight. They’ve been sending their missiles into civilian areas, 100’s a day… Don’t you understand? They hate us! Hamas still has as a part of it’s “mission statement” that they want to destroy Israel and push us all into the sea. How do you think that feels? How do you think it feels to be surrounded by large Arab states that do not want us here? We have to protect ourselves. We are trying not to kill civilians; but we need to stop the missile attacks on our country.”

My inner Palestinian says:

“How do you expect us to feel about you when you treat us like dangerous scorpions, penning us up, preventing our economic development, removing our freedom, allowing the settlers to continue to take our land on the west bank, what do you expect? You do not take any responsibility for this when you present yourselves to the world as innocent victims of Palestinian violence. When you treat us as a people so badly, when you are blind and deaf to our protests and our needs, of course some of our people resort to violence! What other voice do we have? You have such power, both economic, military, and you behave like a big bully. Many of us do not like what our leaders do either, but you make it so hard for us to stand up for another way when you treat us like this, and when you talk about us like this. When you keep us in prison, when you seem to have no regard for the rights and well being of our people.”

My inner Israeli says:

“Well you know why we penned you up, don’t you? We had to confine you because you kept bombing us! All those suicide attacks in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, all those bombs on buses, in libraries. How can you expect us to allow you the freedom to continue to hurt us? You do not take any responsibility for this when you present yourselves to the world as innocent victims of Israeli violence.”

My inner Palestinian says:

“But why do people do this? Because you have been treating us so badly. Because you dis-inherited us of our land, you took most of what we had, as if it was your right, as if we were not people with the right also to be respected. I do not agree with violence against anyone, but you make it so hard for me to stand up to the violent ones in my own society when all we can see from the Israelis, even the ‘liberal’ ones, is that you care more about your own 5 dead than our 150, you don’t care about our wellbeing, all you seem to care about is defending your actions. I want to be able to say to my people, “Its not ALL Israelis who hate us, some of them care about us too” but I see so little evidence of this.”

My inner Israeli says:

“Of course we care about you too! But how can we stretch out a hand when you will simply bite it, bomb it. I want to be able to say to my government, “Stop! They do not really want to hurt us, destroy us, kill us” but I cannot see the evidence for this. Give me something real! Show me you care about Israeli lives too- make Hamas take out the ‘we will push the Israelis into the sea’ part of its charter, let us know in word and action that you want to live in peace with us, and then we will see!”

My inner Palestinian says:

“Well you do not act or speak as if you care about us too! Ditto! Give me something real! Use the economic power you have to support Palestinian civil society. Show us you care about us as people who have a right to a dignified life, just as you do. Show us that you know it is not right that you have imprisoned us. Show us you want to open your eyes to the suffering happening to people on the other side of the fence, and do something about it, and then there will be a different story!”

I don’t want to give either side the last word, but having given the Israeli’s the first, I’ll end here!

There you have my inner version. I feel both these voices strongly inside myself. And I am not from either side, or living in the situation, so I can only imagine how strong it is for those within it. It’s so familiar to me from personal arguments. “It’s your fault and YOU have to make the first move first”.

This is immensely difficult stuff. It reaches into the undigested pain of the holocaust and the pain of the crude way Israel was created after WW II in response to that. It reaches into the depths of the victim/persecutor/rescuer dynamic which is so polarizing.

In my life with Ya’Acov I find this issue one of the most challenging, and am over and over again amazed by its power to create division and polarization in an instant. We have found that its so easy to spin out into the polarization if either one of us forgets, even for a moment, to make it clear to each other that we are aware of and care about the wellbeing and the suffering on both sides. “But of course I do!” does not cut it.

There is suffering and fear on both sides. Of course both sides do not have equal power. But both sides do (with some reason) see the 'other side' as powerful, threatening and not caring at all about 'our' well being. As I see it, both sides feel like the victim, both sides blame the other, both sides are pointing the finger and saying "It is your fault!" rather than asking "what could WE do differently?" For surely that is the power one has, to change one's own actions, or to influence one's own people. And what I see in these dialogues is how hard to is to feel safe enough to be critical of one's own "side" when one does not feel that others see and understand "our suffering/difficulty/dilemma".

I bow in respect for those on both sides able to resist the polarisation and to act and communicate from a place of non-violence and care and love for all the people, whatever side they are apparently on. Lets pray for the ceasefire and for a real dialogue in which both sides can cultivate their care for the well being of all, including the ‘other’ side. I know that is a big ask, and I feel that it is a big key.

And blessings to us all in this struggle to find truth and love, and a shared place of solidarity with the dignity of all life.

Susannah DK

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.