Saturday, January 03, 2009

Posting here my pagbabalikloob ramblings re "Palestine and Gaza"...Terry Bautista asked why the Fil Am community is not talking about the latest events...

You are right, Terry. Am glad you were able to go. I know some Fil Am folks who said they would go to the SF rally. For some of us it's not always possible to drive long distance. Come to think of it, even my listserves that usually forward news from and about the Middle East have been quiet during the holidays.

I suspect that many of us are overwhelmed by the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and don't know where to begin to make connections to our own history so that we can start engaging in the conversation... And given the lopsided (pro-Israel) stance of corporate media, we don't get to hear it from the other side.

What I do know personally is that there are people from both Israel and Palestinian sides who are doing reconciliation work. Many oppose the Israeli carpet bombing of Gaza; many long for peace; and many actually live alongside each other. I get regular updates from Yehuda Stolov of Interfaith Action in Jerusalem on these efforts (but haven't heard from him lately on the latest after the cease-fire). Also Rabbi Arthur Waskow in the US speaks out against Israel aggression so I know that the US-support of Israel is not suppoted by the entire US Jewish community.

How to connect these events to our own history and why it should concern us...i suppose there are many entry points. For example, I'm concerned that many in the christian evangelical community may actually support Israel based on some religious premise about the role of Israel in the return of Jesus Christ. Religion...politics...you know what toxic mix that is.

During the war in Lebanon about two years ago, I got personally invested because I had several Filipino-Lebanese students who had families in Lebanon. I know that many of us have relatives working in the Middle East who get caught in the crossfire of these conflicts.
Many though would probably rather avoid getting caught in the ideological fray...as they think about their jobs and the need to send money home.

I've been to a consultation and a conference where both Israeli and Palestinian delegates were present...and while the political discussions at the national level seem hopelessly unable to create lasting peace, many folks on the ground are working together on how to make peace with each other. I will never forget the lament of the Palestinian delegate when he said, in tears,
-- what i am most sad about is how we are being taught how to hate. when the Israelis take our water away so that our children are thirsty and hungry, we are being taught how to hate. when they take our orchards so that we can no longer live off our lands, we are being taught to hate; when we can't go anywhere without being searched and humiliated, we are being taught to hate."....He said this in the presence of the rest of us, many of whom are from (neo)colonized lands...and we all shed tears with him because this is our story, too.

I was reading Arno Gruen (psychologist) who writes that the violence of modern civilization comes from our inability to cry because from childhood, children are conditioned to not express their pain and suffering, esp. boys...and lose their emphatic perception at an early age. This is later expressed in violent and aggressive ways. "When people lose track of the pain and suffering of others, they become destructive." (in Listening to the Land).

Anyway, this is much too long now...but thanks for starting this thread.


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