Wednesday, August 6, 2014

That Gray Area

I don't like to post about politics.  I don't like the way that people try to push their beliefs/values/principles on others.  I don't like how people are always trying to tell other people what is "right" or "wrong."  Right and wrong are the feelings in the pit of your stomach, a tightening in your chest...

But today after days of reading different people's posts about the Israeli/Gaza/Palestinian situation I feel prompted to speak up (or well write...).  There is a lot of information and a lot of media being put out by various entities.  One could spend all day reading about the conflict or looking at charts, graphs, timelines etc.  And it is easy to get caught up in the very well designed graphics or eloquent words; but I beg of you to remember that data can be presented and biased in almost any imaginable way and that articles almost never tell all sides to a story.

I feel the strong push to write today because of two experiences that happened to me just about two years ago that have forever changed my life.

1.  I made my first trip to Israel.

Israel was amazing.  Such an ancient place full of history.  Birthright trips are obviously designed to push visitors into a pro-Israel mind set, but even so my Oberlin education prevailed and I didn't forget to question, ponder and consider as many views as possible.  And in the end I do believe that I came out of this trip with a more well rounded understanding of Israel.

2.  I was the recipient of directed anti-semitism.

A person who I had spoken maybe a couple of sentences to and totally unprovoked screamed terrible, horrible words and accusations full of hate and hostility directly at me.  Why? Because I am Jewish.  In all honesty I don't even remember exactly what she said, but I sure as shit remember how I felt.  Those words, and the anger hate and hostility behind them shook me to the core. They made me feel sick and disturbed something deep inside my body.

People warn that hate is a strong word, because if you have been on the receiving end you will know exactly how terrifying hate is. Being on the receiving end of any kind of hate (homophobia, xenophobia, racism etc...) is not an experience or a feeling that anyone should ever experience. And for me it is an experience and feeling that I hope to never feel again.

I am not going to sit here and defend the killing of thousands of innocent lives.  And even as a Jewish person when I think long and hard about how the state of Israel came to be it leaves me with mixed feelings.  Before these two experiences I think my feelings about these conflicts would be more decided and sided.  But after my personal experience there is this small part of me that is slightly paranoid and can rest at night knowing that were there to be another Hitler my family would have a haven.

So, please continue to read, and look and listen, educate yourself. But educate your self with ALL the sides of the story. And before you post something and endorse it, as what you believe, consider the bigger picture.  Consider all sides of the story.