- Pathfinder

Reply To: Have you ever been told that supporting Israel prevents you from supporting Palestinians? After taking this course, how would you go about responding to false accusations like this?

Christina Sturgeon

I’ve been told that supporting the plight of the Palestinians means I cannot have sympathies for or support Israelis. (I’m still uncomfortable referring to Israel as a state that encompasses a variety of meanings/implications these days, so prefer to speak of the people who inhabit the land). I think it’s easy for those who haven’t been to Israel to stand at a distance and make broadstroke statements that ignore the intricacies and nuance. Rhetoric is a tool, often used to push agendas at the expense of another these days. Real friendships, although time consuming to make, are what will make a difference in the long haul. After conversations on the ground in Israel with people who espouse different viewpoints, I realized they had a personal focus/grievance as opposed to a grand religious or political issue with the conflict. For the Arab Christian who worked the concession stand at the Mt of Beatitudes, he despised the Jews who came to his family’s village in ’48 and shot his grandpa among others. For the Arab Christian student in Nazareth, it was his frustration with how everything about the Jewish culture just seemed “better.” For the Jewish high schools at a rehab house in Tiberias, one was surprised that I would spend free time with a local Arab because of the fistfight he got in with one in Jerusalem. These and so many more accounts come down to a personal tie to a sense of hurt. Hurt does not exist in silos. Similarly, support for that hurt cannot be contained to either one or the “other.” If we’re to truly understand, we need to consider both.