‘This twilight war involved two entire communities, two peoples, two tribes, two nations, fighting each other without a frontline, neither one really made any distinction between civilians and soldiers… Relations between Israelis and Palestinians became so thoroughly politicised that after a while, there was no such thing as a crime between them, and there was no such thing as an accident between them — there were only acts of war.”
Thomas Friedman wrote that 25 years ago in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem — published not long after the first intifada uprising. What followed the events in the book was the radicalisation of Hamas, the Oslo Accords, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin (strangely, I still remember exactly where I was when the news arrived), the death of Yasser Arafat, the second intifada, the change of heart of Ariel Sharon and Ariel Sharon’s death, which derailed many hopes — despite or because of all of that, Friedman’s words written in 1989 still ring so true.
It’s time to re-read that book, written by an American Jew, and Edward Said’s The Question of Palestine as well as the poems of Mahmoud Darwish. It’s also time to pray for Gaza. Pray for a ceasefire. Pray for the two-state solution (or three, with Gaza and West Bank separated). Pray for the world to remember the Holocaust and the Nakba — the Palestinian exodus — as well as the massacres of refugees at Sabra and Shatila. Pray for the safety of children as the Israeli ground assault begins (Gaza has one of the highest birth rates in the world, that’s why children are everywhere). Pray, above all, for the moderates to speak up and for the hardliners on both sides to calm down.
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