February 25, 2016

Solving the Unsolvable

Theo Deitz­-Green ‘19

Conflict has long been a staple of the Middle East. Civil war, terrorist attacks, dictators and government coups are nothing unusual; however, one of the most enduring conflicts has been the Israeli­-Palestinian conflict.
With the future of the state of Israel on the line, emotions are running high about what must be done regarding the long-running conflict which has often been deemed “unsolvable.”
It is a deeply complex issue, but at its core is the idea that both Israelis and Palestinians believe that the land rightfully belongs to them.
Currently, the land of Israel is under the total control of the Israeli government. This angers many Palestinians because they feel that they are wrongly being kept from what they consider their land.
In 2005, the Israeli government withdrew from the Gaza strip, leaving it to the Palestinians. In 2006, Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and most of the Western world, was elected to lead Gaza.
Palestinians feel they have had to live in poor living conditions and are being oppressed at the hands of the Israeli government. In 2014, Palestinian Political Science professor Mhkaimar Abusada told the Times of Israel that “[Palestinians] are...angry at Israel…[for] destroying homes and killing civilians.”
Israelis feel that they have had to live in constant fear for their lives at the hands of Hamas. According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas is “an enemy [that] wants to destroy [Israel; that] remains committed to [its] obliteration.”
This has been a major issue of contention not only in the Middle East but also around the world, sparking fierce debate, protests and boycotts. Different people have different views as to what must be done.
Some, like freshman David Wingens, believe that the two-­state solution – the plan to divide the land of Israel into one state for Jews and one state for Palestinians – is the best course of action to take.
“[The two state solution] is the only way to attain peace,” said Wingens. “There is no perfect solution,” he added, “but this is the best chance we have.”
Others, like freshman Maya Wasserman, disagree. They think that it is too risky.
“I don’t believe we should have two states,” stated Wasserman. “Why should we try to reason with terrorists?”
Freshman Eitan Szteinbaum similarly opposed the two­-state solution, but for a different reason. He believes that the Jews should not give up land that he considers rightfully theirs.
“[Israel] is the Jewish homeland, ancestrally and historically,” Szteinbaum commented.
As this issue is one of such great importance and people feel so strongly about it, tensions are high whenever it is discussed.
Many find that it is simply too hard or risky for them to state their opinions because they fear they will be harassed by others who don’t share their opinions.
One high schooler, who wished to remain anonymous due to a fear of “backlash” simply pointed out that this is not a black-and-white issue and that “there are two sides to this situation.”
“I would be named on any other issue,” the student said, “but [on] this one specifically I [do not want to be named].”
This person certainly wasn’t alone. Several others asked to remain anonymous, citing similar fears.
Many people think that the lack of discussion about the conflict due to this fear is a major problem.
Sophomore Jordan Mayor thinks that people need to be able to talk about this issue in a reasonable and respectful way.
“The only way you are going to be able to get your opinion across is if you speak kindly…[and] listen [to what other people have to say].”
This is one of the most lasting and impactful conflicts in recent history and in order for it to be solved, people must change the way they talk about it. People must listen to what other people have to say and try to understand where they are coming from; they can’t simply dismiss someone who doesn’t share their views.
Much like Israelis and Palestinians, people must be willing to understand that other people’s opinions, though different, can also be valid and that just like the unnamed high schooler said, there are two sides to this situation.

Only then can the unsolvable be solved.


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