Perhaps, like you, my current rhythms of life and daily routine have recently been interrupted by bits and pieces of breaking news about the latest violence in Israel. I’ve been tempted to pay brief attention to headlines and press reports to have at least some sense of what’s going on in the world — granted, that is before conveniently returning to the ease and comfort of my routine and to what I already know. Israel is some approximate 5690 miles away. Why should I care?
But I do.
The challenge immediately stems, no less, from the difficulty of obtaining knowingly accurate news. As the Intramuralist engaged with caring others this past week, one concerned friend insightfully responded, “I just wish I knew what was true. I also wish I knew where to find it.”
And there we have it. We don’t know. And suffice it to say that seemingly many others with mics in their hands and keyboards at their fingertips not only also don’t know, but, they don’t know what they don’t know. That lack of awareness makes the problem worse and more difficult to comprehend.
Too many have boldly asserted simplistic answers or edicts, presumably — semi-admirably, perhaps — to make the problem go away…
Can the Jewish and Palestinian communities overlap?
(Or perhaps the most oft tempting response…) Could they please just stop fighting?
Others have offered input from their own, respectfully faulty filters… labeling Israel an “apartheid state,” for example, forgetting that Arabs and Jews vote and stand equal under Israeli law, which thereby contradicts the definition of “apartheid.” This is not a racist issue, friends. In fact, we serve our collective intellect poorly when we assume all can be accurately understood from a racist/anti-racist binary.
In discerning this issue, aware that we don’t know what we don’t know, the most important approach seems once again doused in humility. Humility reminds us we don’t have a perfect understanding of the issue. Humility makes us open to new information. In humility, we ask more than we declare.
Hence — noting that the current conflict has been the worst fighting between Israel and Hamas since the 50 day, 2014 Gaza War — we offer the following, admittedly incomplete list of 15 questions…
- What started the current conflict? Was it due to the Supreme court of Israel determining an eviction date for several current Palestinian tenants in an Israeli-owned area?
- Was it due to clashing demonstrations in response at a holy site for both Muslims and Jews?
- Was it due to the President of the State of Palestine cancelling the first elections in a generation — fearful they may lose power to Hamas — and wanting to redirect domestic attention and angst?
- What exactly is Hamas? Is it a terrorist organization as both the United Nations and European Union have designated?
- When Fathi Hammad, Hamas Political Bureau member and former interior minister, called on Jerusalem residents to “cut off the heads of Jews” two weeks ago — adding “the moment of destruction at your hands has arrived” — was he speaking for all of Hamas?
- Does Israel have a right to defend themselves?
- If Hamas huddles in hospitals and schools as Israel reports, should Israel avoid targeting those locales for destruction?
- Are both sides equally to blame?
- What influence — as former Pres. George W. Bush questioned this week — is Iran having here?
- Is Iran attempting to break up alliances made in the 2020 Abraham Accords with Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?
- What is it about the six Arab countries that now have normalized ties with Israel that Palestine could learn from?
- How involved does the entire Arab world need to be to solve this issue?
- What role of the United States would be both appropriate and effective?
- What does solution look like that honors both people groups?
- And… does each nation/people group actually want peace?
Undoubtedly, the fighting here has gone on for eons; the solution isn’t simple. In the most recent, 100 year dispute, the fight has focused on who owns the land and who has a right to live there. There is so much history. So much to learn. And when people struggle to get along and honor one another, there is so much humility that is necessary.