It’s been a long five days. A question that we should all be asking ourselves, all the time, in everything we do, is ‘Did I do the right thing?’. When I think of all the reasons that have been put to me why not, a sense of desolation threatens. The question of who I am to take a stand on such a sensitive issue is particularly depressing. How many people have to die, and how closely do I have to have analysed the complexities of the reasons, before I stand up and say ‘enough’? Who exactly do I have to be to be in a position to comment when death tolls start mounting? Do the people who want to leave Israel and Palestine alone to face the complexities and sensitivity of their situation really know better about what is and isn’t appropriate for an ordinary person to do, than me and all the others who have taken action on a world issue this week? Is it so much to ask of a prestigious institution that they look beyond their own interests to the complexities, injustices and suffering of the world beyond? It seems to me that silence and inertia are more dangerous than any form of peaceful protest could ever be. The level of indifference to our point of view and our reasons that I have encountered amongst our critics is what frightens me the most. I’ve been a staunch defender of Israel’s actions myself in the past, but I never would have got angry or dismissed anyone who challenged me on that. I would have challenged them right back, whoever they were and however dubious their arguments seemed to me. I struggle to see how we can ever make progress, on any contentious issues, if we distance ourselves from any opposition we face.
When I think of all the blood that has been shed, on both sides, over that tiny piece of land, all I can do is hope that eventually, Israel and Palestine will find some way of sharing it. But it doesn’t seem enough to just hope. To question, seek to inform ourselves but, ultimately, to do whatever it takes to have our voices heard: this does not seem like something that needs any qualifications. Violence and destruction seems reprehensible: abandoning apathy and being politically active in response to it does not. If a period of more open and inclusive dialogue and debate on this issue is opened up by what we’ve done, it will have been worth it. My friends and family in Israel often say that outsiders aren’t in a position to comment. Personally, I think Israel and Palestine are going to need some help resolving this.