It will never end

Opinion piece by Ronen Feldman

In light of the recent upheaval taking place in arguably the world’s most politically controversial sight, the question on everyone’s lips would probably be: “When will it ever end?”. A valid question, but a stupid one. Why would the masses be distracted by a nonsensical question one generation after another you ask? The answer to that is as old as Father Time. Take a step back and try looking at the big picture and you will realize the terrible truth. They don’t want it to end.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is undoubtedly one of the most contagious and politically divisive issues in the world, and the majority of those with whom it is concerned have chosen a side merely on the basis of the one most irrational phenomena mankind has ever produced: Identity politics. Note that I’m not putting the blame on any one side of this conflict, rather accuse both of engaging in what I believe to be the root cause of the problem. Unlike most issues concerning our daily lives, identity politics issues are destined to never find a solution from the get-go, since they are based on an inherent feature given to us at birth, that cannot be changed, and those who decide to attribute those to themselves as opposed to being who they are as individuals will forever belong to a group of people with whom they have nothing in common apart from the one thing they didn’t choose.

Getting past complicated definitions, I believe we can all agree judging people for who they are as individuals is the only right way to live in a free and fair society. Coexistence is possible, lets get that out of the way. I’m not being euphoric, a helpless believer in fantasies or an outdated preacher. I speak from experience and observation. Of course, all countries in the free world have a history of bigotry and racism to some extent, large or small, but in those places where values are the main aim of society, instead of inherent identity, time heals divisions. Even in places where this isn’t the case, when people from different walks of life are forced to live together by chance, apart from times of escalation like these, they find a way to see past color, religion, a history of war, or in this case, all of the above.

I’m, a Jew, have a French pen pal of Muslim origin, who has been helping me with my French for a few good years now. We haven’t spoken in a few months though, but when the newscasts all over the world broke that Jerusalem (which is where I live) is overgoing massive and violent protests she called me on the evening of the Temple Mount riots to make sure I was okay. Individual people want to and should care about each other for who they are, and not what their birth given characteristics might suggest. Some would shout: “I am simply worried for my family’s well-being, I don’t care about the politics!”, that might be true in other places of the world, but here that is rarely the case.

When you hear of any problem in your personal life, societal or otherwise, the healthy and human instinct would be to look for a solution, but when you hear that people on both sides’ offered solution is inconceivable to those on the other side, and that negotiations through the years lead to nothing but a broken record of violence, escalation, ceasefire and repeat one must wonder: is the problem in finding a solution, or in the problem itself? Are leaders on both sides interested to come to an agreement or to maintain the Status quo? After all, if the purpose of a war is to achieve progress and prosperity, then by all means, go to war. But if the leaders’ argument is: “The other side is trying to annihilate us for who we were born as, and as soon as we can we’ll ceasefire until further notice..”, that begs the question of what’s the point? Is the struggle at all necessary? Sadly you never hear the second part of the phrase, only the one charged with identity politics filled scares.

As history shows, when identity politics arguments talk, rational arguments walk, and there is nothing stronger or more efficient at rallying the troops than scaring the life out of them, on the ground or around the world by telling them they must join the fight, physically or by ways of protest, to defend their blood born brothers and sisters, whom they’ve never met, just because they were born to any given identity. Then, when the dust settles and all are helplessly exhausted, the puppeteers shake hands and congratulate each other: “Godspeed!” they say, “Till next time!”, dragging countless generations into the inferno of a never-ending battle, killing some and scarring many others, to justify their own existence. This conflict has turned into a synonym for the one conversation starter you should always avoid when meeting new people. Even if you take the nonpartisan position, someone is sure to get ticked off. Finally, when considering the ungarnished truth, in my view the question should not be a ‘when’ but a ‘why’ question: “Why should you care?”.