— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) December 18, 2023
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Powerful Words for Israel, Palestine & Everyone who’s on the Side of Humanity.
“Mummy, Are We Going to Die?” Well, It’s Complicated. On Israel & Palestine.
*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a dear friend, inviting me to a global peace meditation event being held by a successful podcaster.
In the description of the podcast it said, “This week’s episode is the Global Peace Meditation where I chat about what’s happening in the world right now and go into a deep meditation where together we send love and peace to the region of Palestine/Jerusalem.”
I read it again to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. There was one word, one name, that was missing from this description. One part, one side of this conflict, whose name was not even mentioned.
That name is Israel.
For my friend, and for many others, this might seem like a nuance, but it is not. We become more sensitive to this kind of thing when it is our country and our identity that is being erased.
When we aim for peace, it means that there is a conflict between two or more sides. How can we make peace between Israel and Palestine without even mentioning Israel?
I was not shocked though, because I had already experienced cases where people claimed to act for peace, while actually promoting hatred toward Israel.
For example, right after October 7th, my dearest friend sent me a link to a YouTube video: “Dr. Gabor Maté Speaks Out on Israel and Palestine: A Must Watch Video.” After a few jaw-dropping moments, I had to stop watching.
In my opinion, Dr. Maté’s approach is one-sided, with glaring omissions. When discussing the history of the conflict, he neglects to mention that Israel came to control the West Bank and Gaza, while defending itself from a brutal attack by Palestinian factions and all neighboring Arab countries. He forgot to mention the two intifadas, frequent suicide bombings, and terror and missile attacks that were and still are committed by Palestinian militants, and that kill thousands of innocent Israeli citizens.
These incidents brought me back to 2014 when I established Hamsa Journal, a Middle Eastern mindfulness magazine. Back then, I was a traveling yogini based in Israel, and I got to meet lots of mindful, conscious people from various Arab countries. One of them introduced me to a Palestinian woman who resided in one of the neighboring countries.
She was on board with the idea of bringing about peace and connecting people from all over the Middle East through mindfulness and yoga. She introduced me to other Arab yogis, and for months I spent days and nights talking with them about yoga and peace in the Middle East.
For the new year in 2015, I created a Happy New Year’s post in which I listed all the countries in the Middle East and wished them peace and love. To my astonishment, my Palestinian friend was not happy about it. She demanded that I remove Israel from the list of counties on the card. My response was “What?!”
This was when I found out that my Palestinian friend had a completely different idea of peace than I had. For me, peace meant an establishment of a Palestinian state that would live in peace and thrive side-by-side with Israel. To my friend, peace meant the elimination of Israel.
Back then, I did not want to get into the details and facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My perception was that there was absolutely no justification for violence, even when the violence was for self-defense. I viewed Israel as the occupier and the Palestinians as victims. I believed that if the Palestinians got a chance to live decent lives, they would no longer want to attack Israel. I believed that Israel was the only responsible party for the poverty and misery of all Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank.
I did not bother to read the Hamas 1988 Charter, in which the organization openly specifies that their goal is to annihilate Israel and murder Jews. I did not bother to think about the fact that Israel had left Gaza in 2005, and that since then, Hamas has constantly attacked Israel with rockets. I did not know that Israel had allowed Qatar to pay millions of dollars to Hamas, with the hope that this money would help the people in Gaza and cultivate peace.
The events of October 7th woke me up to the harsh truth. I don’t believe there is anything Israel can do that will make Hamas leave us in peace. Hamas leaders are rich and highly educated, yet instead of living their lives peacefully and building good lives for their people, they lurked in the dark and planned their vicious attack.
Peace can’t be made with people who burn babies alive, mass rape women next to the dead bodies of their friends, and kidnap innocent children out of their beds. Just like peace could not be made with the German Nazis, peace can’t be made with those who say that they will repeat October 7th again and again.
Hamas has violently burst my peace and love bubble. I had to dive into the complexity of things and take some history lessons. After educating myself, I had to admit that like many, I chose to see only one side of the story. Because of my ethics, it was difficult for me to accept when my country was mistreating Palestinians citizens. I therefore dismissed the contribution of Hamas, and those who support them, to the situation.
I still believe that peace is possible, just not with Hamas in power. And since I believe in peace, I make sure to only listen to people who can relate to the pain of both sides. It hurts me that Palestinians are killed in Gaza. It is devastating and horrible. And it is also painful that Hamas still holds and tortures innocent Israelis who were taken out of their beds or from a peaceful dance festival without any warning on a Saturday morning. It still hurts that Hamas has hurt my people in such an inhumane manner that it took months to identify their mutilated bodies.
But what can we do?
We can demand that Israel do better in protecting the lives of innocent Palestinians. And we can demand that Hamas end this war it started by immediately returning the Israeli hostages, ceasing fire, and stepping down and renouncing its goal to eliminate Israel and kill all Jews.