As the conflict in Gaza continues, Sharon Brous offers a reflection on the importance of honoring our shared humanity both as a spiritual practice and the only way to peace:
But some will read it and say: this is the heart of the matter. At the end of the day, human beings-Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians-yearn for the chance to live and love in freedom and with dignity. Recognizing our shared humanity is the only way we’ll ever have a chance at peace.
This latest round of warfare has revealed unprecedented polarization. Decent and reasonable people are stunned to discover how hard it is to find common ground with other decent and reasonable people; everyone seems to feel that the rest of the world has gone mad. This matters now more than ever because many have argued that there is no military solution to this conflict, that when the fighting finally ends the only thing that will have been made clear is the necessity of a diplomatic solution. This means that grueling conversations about a shared future, including talk of borders, water rights and refugees, will have to emerge from a context of exacerbated contention and distrust, rooted in radically conflicting narratives. The morning after the fighting ceases, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, will have to contend with the devastating aftershocks of grief, pain and fear, which have made it so hard for us to even see one another.
That’s why all the talk about sympathy and empathy and self-reflection, even during war time, is not only spiritually essential, but also strategically critical…
As for me, I will not wave someone else’s banner or shout slogans that don’t honor all the sides of my heart. I will continue to strive to recognize the painful complexity of this situation. I will take solace in the fact that for Jews, unity does not mean uniformity. I love Israel. I care deeply about the lives of my brothers, sisters and friends there, some of whom are now serving in Gaza. I want Hamas’ horror-show terror schemes to be thwarted. I also grieve the deaths of Israel’s neighbors and their children. I yearn to hear acknowledgment that Hamas’ vulgar fanaticism was able to root in part because the 47 year occupation seeded despair amongst Palestinians. I understand that the rapidly shifting realities of the Middle East make peace more challenging now than ever, but I want Israeli and Palestinian leaders to invest as much time, ingenuity, and resources in a diplomatic resolution to the conflict as they invest in the military option. I pray that all of us, left and right, Israeli and Palestinian, despite our grief, pain and fear, will be able to stretch our hearts to see one another.
For the full piece, please visit the Huffington Post here.