A Hopeful Cynicism – Mike

First off, I should apologize for not posting sooner. I came down with some kind of nasty infection about 3 days ago, and while I feel better now, nobody wants to read posts about how long it took me to read Lolita(quite a while) or how fun being sick is(not very).
When I wrote my resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict last year in Hiroshima-9/11, I thought I had everything mapped out. Two state solution, path of the Wall/Border/Fence, resource allocation, etc. What I forgot were the people, the ones who have the power to put my resolution into action. While I have immensely enjoyed speaking to a vast array of people with a vast array of views, it hasn’t brought about the impact that I thought it would before I took off in Philadelphia. Namely, it hasn’t made me hopeful that a solution is possible any time soon.
Before you scream at me through your monitor, I will explain. What I mean to say is that by hearing almost every imaginable viewpoint from either side, it has further complicated the conflict in my mind. Two quick examples:
1.)The definition and implication of the word Zionist. Even some of the most “progressive” Israelis that we talked to, i.e. Arik Ascherman and Lydia Aisenberg call themselves Zionists. Zionism is a big, confusing word that in my opinion does not merit a specific definition. Google it and come to your own conclusions, as I’d be foolish to even attempt to define it. What I do know is that Zionism has huge implications and a wide range of impact. What’s concerning about the word itself and its many definitions is the fact that most Palestinian “progressive” groups who we talked to are completely unwilling to work with Zionists. Their reasons range but their conclusion remains the same: they won’t work with Zionists. Clearly, you can see the problem. If even the most progressive groups are unwilling to collaborate, then, put simply, who will?
2.)The disunity of the Palestinian people. This issue is a bit more hard-hitting because it’s one that I hadn’t heard about until David Mendelson educated us about it in one of our many meetings. Until that time, it had been my belief that the Palestinian people were only in a conflict with outside forces. I now realize that the Palestinians have each other to deal with us well. Besides the obvious split of Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, respectively, the Palestinians are divided into different ethnic groups, religions and viewpoints on the conflict. While they all want peace in some way or another, the catch is in the details.
These two issues alone could spark a novel(and I’m sure they have). Unfortunately, they are just two of an ever-growing mental jigsaw puzzle I have, and they all must fit together if there is to be any hope of seeing something beautiful when the puzzle is put together. While it is appalling to hear kids my age say that they hate all Jews(!), I have been able to draw some hope from these jagged puzzle pieces.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum came as a all-too-solemn reminder of where I come from, and it was an experience that I’d prefer not to blog about in great detail. And while it was a bleak reminder of a bleak past, it had a hopeful message: Even the Holocaust ended. So I’d prefer to approach the rest of this trip with a hopeful cynicism, to draw every last bit of hope out of everything we hear, but at the same time, to remain realistic.
I hope to post something lighter(sorry to depress you) before I leave, as there is quite a lot of good to share. Until then, I shall react and reflect.

Mike D.

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