As predicted, now that we are staying with families we have much better access to the internet, and so I will be able to write quite regularly for the next five days, at least. We left Bethlehem this morning, and arrived at the Ramallah Friends School this afternoon, where I met my host family and came home with them. After a good dinner and an evening walking around the city/eating amazing pastry, I find myself here, getting ready to go to bed and prepare for visiting classes tomorrow. In many ways I feel like the time in Ramallah will be a highlight of this trip (if I can say that there is only one…); we really get a chance to interact with kids our own age, and get for form real connections over more time than just one hour long information session.
In reply to my last post, I was asked what an individual can do to reduce the violence, and my answer is still this: it is to do whatever possible to work against the dehumanization of people on BOTH sides. Why? The human brain has safeguards built into it which make it extremely difficult to kill another human being. There are two big things which enable a person to take a life: societal/group acceptance (lack of which is what led to so much PTSD in Vietnam vets.) and the dehumanization of the other person. (that info came from a book called On Killing, the author of which I do not remember). It stands to logic, therefore, that if we can attack those two factors, then people will find extreme violence much easier. Earlier today we also visited Yad Vishem, the Holocaust Memorial museum just outside of Jerusalem. In it, we were taught of the extreme lengths that the Nazi command took in order to make everybody believe that the Jewish race was not human, and in many ways succeeded, thus empowering the average soldier to commit some of the atrocities which they did. The much-repeated phrase about the Holocaust is “never again” (which I find ironic, because one of the things they talked about quite a bit was walling off ghettos and blocking travel in and out of – cough cough – Gaza… but that’s a rant that I don’t think I will go into right now). Seeing as how it was the dehumanization of Jews which permitted the Holocaust to take place, should not the Israeli government be a little more sensitive to the fact that they are dehumanizing themselves in they eyes of the Palestinians through the vessel of the soldiers, at the checkpoints and occupying the West Bank during the second Intifada?
Err… Sorry, got a bit off track to answering the question there. What can one actually do to help this. In all honesty, I do not really know. There are many organizations working for nonviolence, human rights, etc. (Rabbis for Human Rights, for one), and supporting such a group could help. One could also pressure our government to squeeze Israel much harder in terms of following UN resolutions and ending the occupation/oppression through the venue of the $3 billion of our tax dollars we give to Israel to bankroll their military each year (please tell me I’m not the only one a teensy bit uncomfortable with this… especially with our current economic situation/budget deficit?). That all said, there are probably other things one can do, but I am not really there yet in my thinking: I am still in the processing and gathering of information stage, not the solution finding one yet. I shall keep this on a back burner, and who knows, maybe I will think of something with time.
Ok. Bed, as I have school tomorrow :).