Monday, August 15, 2005


I've been meaning to say something about Gaza for some days now. I imagine that you, too, are giving much thought to that conflicted region these days, Bush, as the Israelis enforce the withdrawal from their people's settlements in nthe area. So many conflicting claims and interests there! So much human ego, so much human sense of entitlement and possession, so much human suffering! It's a dire situation, and one that will never be resolved without real sacrifice--both personal and political. And sacrifice is what we humans are least willing to do: we have so much of our sense of self tied up in what we imagine that we own.

Whom to support? With whom sympathize? Even this I find to be a vexing question. I guess my own solution--easy, you'll tell me, at this distance--is not to take sides. To exercise as much compassion as possible for all. For the settlers, who have vested themselves, their lives, their work, their love in this little patch of land that they seem to believe was given them by God. I have little sympathy for the notion that "God" gives us anything--especially at the expense of others: does He not love them equally?--and yet I can see how deep an attachment this belief can create. And it is compounded by the further attachments: to land, to home, to source of livelihood, and so on.

On the other side, who can fail to sympathize with people who have already experienced, years ago, the kind of ejection that the settlers are now called upon to experience for themselves? With people who have experienced real oppression, real deprivation, poverty, and limitations on their freedom. Who have been both the victims and the perpetrators of violence? Who have suffered both from the controlling hand of others, and from the corruption of those who govern them? Their expressions of joy, their triumphalism might appear unseemly, given the suffering of others, but then so might the stubborn defiance of the settlers.

Created by so much historical bad faith and misguided nationalism, it's a situation now where winning involves enormous losses on both sides. Let's hope, Bush, that it can bne resolved this time without bloodshed, and the the withdrawal opens the door for further movement toward peace in this much troubled region. The anger and frustration generated by this conflict are now, as we well know, causing deep disturbances throughout the world.

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