Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Love of the Land: There is no Hope for Peace

There is no Hope for Peace

Dr. Alex Grobman
04 May '10

There are many attempts to understand why the Arab/Israel conflict remains unresolved. Among the reasons advanced for this impasse are that: years of suspicion, fear, feelings of injustice and stereotyping have created a psychological barrier between Israelis and Arabs.[1] Negative perceptions have reduced incentives to accept peace proposals, prejudice the viability of these proposals and preclude feelings of empathy.[2]

On the most personal level, there are differences in Arab and Jewish life-styles. Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, laments the gulf dividing Arabs and Jews even when they live together as neighbors. They patronage the same stores, exchange information on common neighborhood issues, drink coffee in the afternoon, and watch their children growing up from opposite sides of the fence.[3]

Yet they do not share common holidays, days of rest, or free time activities. Holidays are especially alienating. Benvenisti would not invite his neighbors to sit in his sukkah (booths used during the Feast of Tabernacles) lest they be offended when he recites the prayer over the wine. Similarly, when one of his neighbor’s children returned from the hajj, the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca, his family would not be invited to celebrate to save them embarrassment for not knowing how to behave.[4]

Estrangement is even more pronounced the moment visible symbols are involved. When Benvenisti displays the flag on Israeli Independence Day, he knows his neighbors will be upset. On Yom Kippur, work ceases throughout the country. During the month of Ramadan, Arabs rise at 3: 00 a.m. A blind man in his neighborhood, who is escorted by a drummer, wakes-up the pious at 3:a.m. to prepare the meal before the fast. [5]

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Love of the Land: There is no Hope for Peace

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