- Pathfinder

Reply To: What were some of your primary takeaways after reading Matti Friedman’s “There Is No ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’”?

Lillian Gillespie

Matti Friedman’s article shouldn’t have been mind-blowing. I knew that historically Israel wasn’t just threatened by Hamas or Arab Palestinians but didn’t think deeply about the fact that peace in the region is dependent on the cooperation of so many more interest groups than just the people that live in the territory. Friedman points out Israel’s geographic proximity to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. He raises questions of power vacuums that could develop if Israel were to concede civilian settlements to the Palestinians. According to Friedman, Westerners interested in the conflict need to consider that if Israel disappeared, “the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.” Israel distracts from the other sectarian, ideological, and territorial conflicts within the Arab world. By “zooming out” as Friedman encourages his readers to do, neutral and anti-Israel Westerners don’t have to automatically agree that Israel’s government is more moral/just/insert adjective. But one realizes how useless solutions such as “if only Israel did X, Y, or Z” are to long term, sustainable peace. A Christian approach should look to end suffering for people, all made in God’s image. But we need to be pragmatic. If solutions don’t address the instability of the entire region and the existential threats Israel faces from Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, etc. and cast Israel as the more powerful aggressor, they ignore context.