Israel and the Palestinians have not had peace for thousands of years. Both want the same territory their ancestors had. Holy places matter to both. But so do jobs, water, food, electricity, resources, rights, self-government. Tonight, as I write, Israelis are expanding their ground attack into Gaza–“pay-back,” as one official said, for Hamas’ abduction and horrific torture of more than 200 innocent Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023. Unable to free all the hostages first, Israel says its aim is, nevertheless, to destroy all of Hamas, no matter what. And similarly, Hamas has said its goal is to destroy Israel. (Though the Israeli-Palestinian situation is serious, it reminds me of Eugene Field’s poem about the gingham dog and the calico cat; look it up).
Palestinians have not been treated fairly since 1948 when Israel was made a state. Evicted from their land and homes taken over by Israel, they have suffered greatly for many years living in apartheid, under racial discrimination, under checkpoints, without sufficient employment or resources, food, or self-government. It seems these many years of exploitation, persecution, and oppression of Palestinians finally erupted into Hamas’s explosive attack on Israel and its kidnapping, torturing, and killing of innocent Israeli citizens. Until there is a way to assure that each nation has land it can call its own, with its own rights, resources, government intact, this fighting between the two is not likely to end (and you know what happened to the gingham dog and the calico cat!).
The world is so intertwined today that such fighting between these two peoples may bring war throughout the Mid-East, even involve the nations of the world, including the U.S. (we already are there) and Russia. Hezbollah and Iran will help Hamas and the Palestinians. The U.S. and NATO nations will help Israel. Perhaps I am naive. I am neither historian nor politician. I simply care that both peoples be self-governed–each with sovereign rights to their own land and culture, with peace and freedom to be who they are.
What can one person do to help?
I ask the same question closer to home. Just 48 miles from where I live here in Maine, the recent killing by a crazed shooter of 18 people, and wounding of 13, is equally distressing.
Again, I ask myself what can one person do?
Do we just let horrific situations sail away from any solutions? After a while, it’s as if these devastating problems drift into unconsciousness. They sail away and some new event replaces them in thought. But we need to keep them upfront. We need to ask ourselves how to keep military weaponry out of the hands of unstable persons. It’s as if a delirious Congress can’t enact gun laws that most of us want, as if every congressman has no idea that the child shot could be his own. It’s as if the land the Palestinians owned for generations elusively departs into Israeli hands and Israel won’t share.
What can one person do?
“Thoughts and prayers”? We might start with these, but that trite line is too slick an answer. We need complex solutions for complex problems. This takes heavy-duty thinking and praying.
As I think and pray, I wait for a ship to come in with bountiful answers. But tonight, that ship is sailing away and I am left to look out into a dark churning sea of unpleasant situations.
Artwork: Sailing Away oil, 24″ x 24″ $875. An abstract painted a number of years ago, part of a series.