Just tryin’ to get us some peace

Once again, the bombs are flying over Israel and Gaza.

On Facebook and Twitter, I see posts from friends weighing in.  Some feel Israel is to blame because of the living conditions and strong restrictions placed on the Palestinian territories.  Others are on the side of Israel, because what country would not defend itself when repeatedly provoked?

Mostly I stay out of these conversations.  They are designed to become inflammatory and no one has ever changed their position on an issue because of a FB conversation.  (Or if they have, I haven’t heard about it.)

This particular situation strikes quite close to home, since Joshua is Israeli and all of his family lives there – and have spent the better part of the last 3 or 4 days running to and from their bomb shelters and then listening as rockets scream overhead, hearing loud explosions as the Iron Domes try to do their jobs and destroy the missiles before they can hit the ground.

Before I get to the heart of the matter, I must tell you a short story.   Today we were walking at sunset on West 72nd St. and noticed at least 30 taxis parked along the street, all of them empty.   There is an Islamic Center on Riverside at 72nd, and Joshua guessed that the drivers were Muslim and therefore observing Ramadan, which required them to fast during the day.  As soon as the sun sets, they break the fast with a large meal, in this case, at the Islamic Center.   We saw one driver just parking his car and I went over and asked him what was going on, and he confirmed that the drivers were gathering to break their daily fast together.   We wished him a good meal and end to the fast, and he thanked us with a smile, his hand over his heart.    As we walked away, Joshua said, “99% of all Muslims in the world are gentle, kind people who just want to live their lives in peace.  Just like 99% of Jews and Israelis, and all people, really.   The people in Gaza don’t want to live every day with bombs falling around them; the people in Israel don’t either.”

This is important, because when anyone talks about what is going on in the current conflict, particularly on the Muslim side, we are talking about Hamas – an extremist group willing to sacrifice civilians to further their misguided cause.   We are not talking about all Muslims.   Any extreme acts on either side – the killing of the three Jewish teenagers a few weeks ago and the killing of the Palestinian boy last week – go against the beliefs and basic tenets of the religions their perpetrators supposedly represent.

That said, the bottom line is that the Israelis would make peace.  Hamas and other extremist groups operating in the Palestinian territory and elsewhere will not.    This video by Dennis Prager spells it out pretty clearly.  Mr. Prager and I would probably disagree on a lot of things when it comes to domestic U.S. issues, but on this we agree.

I do not say that Israel and its military forces have never made mistakes – there is certainly enough blame to go around when it comes to the last 60+ years of almost daily conflict and antagonism between the two sides.   But the bottom line?  It could all have been avoided if the two state solution had been accepted by both sides way back in 1947.   The Jews accepted it.  The Arabs did not.

And here we are.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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3 Responses to Just tryin’ to get us some peace

  1. Phil says:

    I agree 99.9% of people of all faiths (and nearly all atheists) all over the world, want peace for themselves and their families; they respect ‘the golden rule’ of ‘do unto others.’ The problem is not Arabs (defined by Webster’s as a Semitic people from the Arabic Peninsula) but is, largely, Muslims; specifically – militant Muslims. And while this may not directly answer your question, I think that we (Westerners) need to keep in mind the extreme youth of Islam (it’s basically a teenager) when you compare it to Judaism, Christianity (who are fully matured ‘adults’) and other *major* world religions.

    There seems to be a pretty clear 3 or 4 step process whereby a religion reaches maturity… first is the *founding* era (when the religion is recognized amongst its earliest followers as a religion); followed by the *enlightenment* age (when they write their scripture); the *dark* ages (massive war, bloodshed and violence both within and outside the religion; usually in the name of their scriptures); followed by a 4th *enlightenment* phase where they realize the scriptures and doctrines of their faith are a sort of poetry of the soul; to be used as moral guidance and not the literal words-of-god.

    Islam is in it’s dark ages. When it turns on its own, and tortures and kills in the name of stricter Sharia law… it’s the Spanish Inquisition. When it lashes out at foreigners in Western cities it fancies itself Crusading. And when it faces Israel it is at it’s most frightful; least sensible; bloodthirsty, worst.

    That said – I don’t have an answer as to “who is right or wrong.” I think, like most of the rest of life, you have to accept where history and circumstance have placed you and do the best you can to navigate toward relative safety using/accepting the facts as they are. Islam has all the earmarks of a great world religion and when it’s reached full maturity will produce scholars of peace; I’m certain of it. But I have no idea how to placate that bloodthirsty and fanatic faction that demands orthodoxy (on both sides) in the meantime.

    And just to play devil’s advocate – historically there have always been minority Jewish and minority Christian pockets in and about the holy land; small populations; and that might have persisted for another thousand years. We – American and European interests – definitely provoked the Palestinians back in the 1940′s when we decided to form a modern Jewish state vastly larger than any of the existing population warranted and began a worldwide settlement campaign. As Americans we’re familiar with NIMBY politics and this was a pretty massive-scale NIMBY moment for Palestinian folks. That said it’s a mess. The whole thing is so convoluted and murky at this point that I don’t think ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ can even be discerned any longer. But I do think more of us should keep in mind that at 1400 years old… Islam has 600 years to go to catch up with its cousin Christianity; and vastly more than that, to catch up with it’s uncle, Judaism.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Phil!
      Love this comment. I hadn’t ever thought about the fact that Islam as a religion is quite a bit younger than Judaism & Christianity. That is fascinating and I’m going to think about that for a good long while.

      What makes the situation difficult is the particulars – the every day minutiae and the fault that lies on both sides after 60+ years, but the root of the issue is simple – There could have been a two state solution from the outset, and so much bloodshed might have been avoided. (Then again, maybe not, given what you said regarding the phase that Islam is in, but still….)

  2. Phil says:

    I can’t take full credit; I’d read – somewhere, I think maybe an op/ed in the Times a few years ago – that at 1400 Christianity was still in the dark ages and it was only fair to expect the same from Islam. There was this kernel of inferred logic – of religions having lifespans and varying levels of maturity – that super-duper-captured my thinking.

    What’s happening is tragic and horrible and I’m so, so, sorry to hear that Joshua’s family is living through these massive and unrelenting terror attacks; I can’t imagine what it’s like for them, and my heart goes out to you guys.