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Fear and Loathing

Lisa has an extremely well written, thought-provoking post. Which doesn’t surprise me, because I consider her to be probably the best writer in the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere. I am also saying this as someone who has very different political views.

 

In her post, Lisa describes the part that ignorance plays in sowing the seeds of hatred. In her words:

We Jews and Arabs, we live side-by-side and we watch each other and we interact (sometimes) but we don’t really know each other. We think we do, but we don’t. Ignorance leads to fear, and too often fear does lead to loathing.

I can’t argue with this, especially since Lisa is obviously invoking her inner yoda in writing this. And you all should know that I have a soft spot for Yoda. But I will add this: in neo palestinian society, loathing is also a biproduct of an education system that teaches children to loathe. In other words, ignorance (as to the truth) all too often leads directly to loathing, without the “fear” step.

 

Be that as it may, Lisa describes two similar incidents to support her contention. In the first, her palestinian friend Khaled takes a wrong turn in Jerusalem, and ends up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Much to Lisa’s astonishment, he expresses his fear of being beaten up or killed by Orthodox Jews.

 

In the second incident, Lisa’s friend Hadas describes her fear of being kidnapped and killed, after being left alone in a car in Ramallah when her palestinian colleague inexplicably gets out of the car, and starts speaking to a group of men standing on the street.

 

While I appreciate both of these stories, there is a certain assymetry between them. After all, the fear of being killed in Ramallah is based on very real dangers, while the fear of being killed by Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem is not. That is not to invalidate Khaled’s emotions. In fact, Khaled’s story very poignantly illustrates the role of ignorance in instilling fear in someone, which is the main contention of Lisa’s post. However, Hadas’ story does not. It is not ignorance that is causing the fear, but the opposite: it is knowledge of past events that is the cause of the fear. No matter how well Hadas thinks she knows her colleague, past events suggest that this does not always count for much.

 

Lisa concludes her post as follows:

And I really don’t think that we’re going to get anywhere around here until we learn to read between the lines, and to let the reporters and editors know that we’d like a more complete picture of what’s going on. Otherwise we’ll just remain convinced that the Other is a terrifying, murderous beast who simply cannot be trusted. Because he’s one of those.

I agree with Lisa that a more complete picture is what is needed. But that is not enough. Tangible changes in the situation on the ground is even more important. Terrorism needs to end. Neo palestinians need to vocally speak out against, and actively fight, terrorism. Because no matter how complete the picture is, and no matter how many decent neo palestinians there are out there, the continuation of terrorism, and the lack of visible opposition to it, will always undermine efforts to dispel the fear and mistrust.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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