So many posts address the debate over policy–and the Middle East is in the news again. This is not your typical post. It delves into the experience of living in Israel, with an eye to the complexities and nuances.
It also hits on a really important diplomatic skill–the art of listening, really listening. I can’t post enough on that one because its easy to explain, harder to internalize and practice.
Required reading before you start arguing about rockets, military intervention, alliances and historical claims.
I don’t know how to talk about what is happening here but it’s probably less about writers’ block than readers’ block. It says so much about the state of our discourse that the surest way to enrage everyone is to tweet about peace in the Middle East. We should be doing better because, much as I hate to say it, the harrowing accounts of burnt-out basements and baby shoes on each side of this conflict don’t constitute a conversation. Counting and photographing and tweeting injured children on each side isn’t dialogue. Scoring your own side’s suffering is a powerful way to avoid fixing the real problems, and trust me when I tell you that everyone—absolutely everyone—is suffering and sad and yet being sad is not fixing the problems either.
One good lesson I am learning this week is to shut up and listen. Because the only way to cut through the mutual agony here is to find people who have solutions and to hear what they have to say. Bombing the other side into oblivion is no more a solution than counting your dead children in public. The best thing about shutting up and listening? You eventually lose the impulse to speak.
Please don’t judge. Work toward solutions. Because everyone on every side of this is desperate. This isn’t a way to live and we all know it. Last night I was at a study session with a group of women in Jerusalem. A teenage girl was crying and I assumed it was over a guy. It’s always a guy. But it wasn’t. She was headed to the army today.