About two months ago, when three Israeli boys were kidnapped by Palestinians, I, as a blogger, immediately wondered if I should write about what had happened.
At first I avoided the topic. My blog is staunchly non-political. I believe deep in my heart that when we connect to our souls instead of the arbitrary dividing lines the world has created for us, that we will find much more truth and solve many more problems.
But this was different. These were my Jewish brothers. And as Israel reached a fever pitch, and the news continued to dominate the air and blog waves for weeks, I rethought my position.
And so I posed a question to my readers on my Facebook page: did they want to hear what I had to say about Israel? I wanted their input, I wanted to know if they thought I could actually add to the conversation.
The result stunned me. Practically everyone wanted me to get into the mix. They thought I would have good insights. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
And so I heeded their call. I started to slowly inch out my voice on the topic.
Then more and more, and as the war started to go, I started to write and post on Facebook and Twitter almost exclusively about Israel.
It’s been an interesting experience and experiment for someone who has been trying so hard to stay above the fray and away from the divisive topics of the world.
But mostly it’s been incredibly frustrating.
Today, the Daily Show released a clip where Jon Stewart attempted to speak about Israel and Gaza. Immediately, a group of people appeared from under his table and started berating him.
“WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF GAZA SHOT ROCKETS AT YOU?!”
“WHAT IF MEXICO SHOT ROCKETS INTO TEXAS?!”
Then he tried to assign some responsibility to Gaza. They all popped out again.
“CHILDREN ARE DYING!”
Finally, Stewart just gives up.
Jon Stewart and I probably have almost polar opposite views of Israel and Gaza. I think he tries too hard to morally equivocate and defend Hamas, who I consider terrorists bent on Israel’s destruction. But I’ve never so identified with something as a blogger as when I saw that video.
I don’t think Stewart was trying to morally equivocate in that video, or say that pro-Israelis are the same as pro-Palestinians. I think he was trying to display that it has become almost impossible to have a sane, normal discussion about the conflict anymore.
People have created dividing lines. You are either completely pro-Israel or completely pro-Palestinian. And if you try and straddle any line that shows shades of gray, the tone of debate immediately reaches a fever pitch.
It is precisely this: the tone of the debate; that so frustrates me as a blogger. People encouraged me as a blogger to write about the subject, but I’ve never felt more frustrated, more unheard as a writer, since I started writing online.
And what is even more frustrating is that, despite the tone, despite the rhetoric, there really is this demand to only consume content about Israel and Palestine today. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of practically nothing else.
And yet, it seems that this insatiable desire to consume more content has nothing to do with challenging beliefs, with introspection, with deep thinking.
It seems to me that people are looking for mirrors. They want to find writers, TV shows, Tweeters, bloggers, who say exactly what they are already saying. The moment someone deviates from the script, they come out from under the table, in the way Stewart so perfectly displayed, and start screaming their with their shrill voices.
The most balanced, normal people I know have taken the position of the people under the table. And it’s heartbreaking to me, because I feel that unless I am 100% aligned on either side, the yelling will continue.
I hope people will heed Jon Stewart’s call. This isn’t about the conflict itslef. It’s about respecting each other, seeing past the rhetoric, and towards something deeper. Towards a respectful dialogue. Towards seeing the humanity in each other enough that we don’t turn the world into our PR puppetry.
As a blogger, I am tired of being told I need to be a cog in your machine, one way or the other. I am tired of being told that pro-Palestinians are not worth my time. I am tired of being told that because I support Jewish-Muslim unity that I have to denounce everything Israel ever did since the beginning of time. I am tired of people demanding I speak up and then immediately turning on me the moment I don’t fit their agenda.
In short, I’m sick of the people under the table. Thank you, Jon Stewart, for helping me realize this. In you, I feel more connection than all the pro-Israelis in the world.
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