October 19, 2023

Remembering the Israeli & Palestinian Girls who Dared to Hope for a Better Future.

A few more perspectives:

>> As Long as there’s Division, my Children—Our Children—will Never Be Safe.
>> 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.


This past July, I was flying home from visiting family back East and about to board the final leg from Atlanta to Albuquerque.

In the gangway leading to our aircraft, I noticed a gaggle of teenage girls talking loudly and enthusiastically, waving their arms this way and that.

Naturally, I assumed it was my fellow New Mexicans heading home. As it happened, these young ladies occupied the rows directly in front of me, where I noticed their dark complexions and a language I didn’t comprehend.

At first, I concluded they were Syrian refugees speaking Arabic. Overcome by curiosity, I introduced myself and discovered that they were, in fact, Israeli teens speaking Hebrew. That I could confuse Israelis speaking Hebrew with Syrians speaking Arabic tells you something about the Middle East.

Through further conversation, I learned that they and their Palestinian compatriots were heading to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to participate in a three-week workshop which encourages peacemaking and women’s empowerment skills through a program called “Tomorrow’s Women.”

I was truly impressed, and blessed them for their youthful passion and dedication to a worthy cause.

I bet they had a great time during their three-week event. Who hasn’t when spending a week or a weekend at some youth rally or conference with a group of like-minded kids, doing something inspiring to improve themselves and the world at large?

No doubt they left for Israel and Palestine fired up with hope, enthusiasm, and the desire to share with others all the skills they had learned. Maybe after so many bloody decades, these young leaders could finally bring their respective people to join together in mutual peace and understanding.

I wonder what they are feeling now.

How many of the Israeli girls have lost friends and loved ones to Hamas’ barbaric assault where they committed atrocities that have shocked and repelled the global community? How many of the Palestinian girls lost friends and family members to Israeli airstrikes or from Israel’s demand that millions of them flee their homes in Gaza or suffer utter destruction?

We progressive American Jews are currently torn in twain. While we unequivocally support Israel and its right to defend itself from those who wish to eradicate its existence, the moral code of Judaism is appalled by the brutality of the Israeli response underway in Gaza.

From reading comments on the Jerusalem Post online site, I’ve observed each side dehumanizing the other and routinely justifying cruelty. Ironically, both the Israelis and the Palestinians mimic each other in their embrace of victimhood and righteous entitlement. Both believe God is on their side.

It would take more than an essay to give the background of this never-ending Gordian Knot. I have no solutions and no doubt that after the inevitable cease-fire is called and the bodies buried, the same conflagration will erupt again five to 10 years from now.

And what of those hopeful teenage Palestinian and Israeli girls who came to my town with visions of a better world in their hearts and minds? Have they been betrayed by men who have channeled violence into national policy or through the barrel of an AK-47? Will they now give up their dreams and fall back into their traditional tribal identities? Will they decide in turn to hate and fear those with whom they once hugged, sang songs, and ate meals with while joyfully sharing cell phone pictures of their families?

We owe these girls something more. We owe them the future they once dared to envision.


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