Unable to see eye to eye

The irony is that both Jews and Palestinians are the best placed to understand each other's persistence: both cling tenaciously -- irrationally, perhaps -- to their devotion to the land. But at what cost? A constant deadlock in negotiations where either side refused to budge, to make concessions? At the loss of multiple family members? And what about the damage to the land itself? It seems both groups have allowed the land to be degraded simply for the sake of holding on to it.

I appreciated the settler who spoke to our group for his willingness to share his perspective with a folks he surely anticipated may be unsympathetic, if not hostile to it. As the many Palestinians we spoke to put a human face on their story of the conflict, so this settler put a human face on that particular Israeli faction -- the desire for a peaceful and meaningful place to raise a family, the desire to practice one's religion without difficulty. The conversation also offered a glimpse into how through careful semantics and focus on only the mistakes of the "enemy" and the successes of "our side," we can convince ourselves of the rightness of our position.

We had an interesting juxtaposition of perspectives, leaving the settlement to visit Hebron and the Machpela. Our speaker had just mentioned Baruch Goldstein, saying his actions were not condoned by Israeli society. Moments later, on the bus, our tour guide (a Palestinian) said that Jews venerate Goldstein as a hero for his actions. This illustrated for me how both parties speak truth according to their own perspectives -- and call the other liars, because they don't understand how something can be both true and false.


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