Two Sides to Every Story
“The problem here is that there are two competing narratives of the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and they are both true - and they don’t meet!”
~Israel Politican Naomi Chazan
Growing up as a kid and getting in arguments with my sisters, I always found it amazing how different my version of the story was with my sister’s version of the story when we reaccounted the facts to my Mom. My Mom took both our versions and crafted a “judgment” whether that be, apologize, go to your room, do your sister’s chores, etc. How could both of our versions of the same story be so different? Working as a law clerk, I am still plagued with this question every day as I sift through discovery and read the case files to put together the complicated puzzle pieces of litigation. I am struck by how two parties can get to the point where spending thousands of dollars and years and years embroiled in litigation is somehow better than resolving the conflict. People are willing to give up life-long friendships or the peace of mind of having a collegial relationship with your next-door-neighbor. Somehow humans forget that the person “across the table from them” is human too.
I am not as familiar with the situation in Israel and Palestine as I should be. Quite frankly, I am scared. I have known people from both sides of the spectrum. When I am with my Israeli Jewish friends, I see their perspective. When I am hanging out with my Palestinian Arab friends, I see their perspective. But, somehow in my mind, I can’t put the puzzle pieces together. I guess that is the problem in general though—the two competing narratives of history. This article highlights the importance of returning to the simple truths: all are created by God. All deserve the right to live in peace and justice and security. To overcome conflict, we must see the world from the other’s viewpoint.
In the Masters of Dispute Resolution program we learn about forgiveness and reconciliation. The memory of the past should and must live with each of us forever. However, the hatred must die in order to reach true reconciliation. The past will never be forgotten. No one is trying to forget—only to forgive so that one may truly be free.
The conflict is made worse by cultural dynamics. “When Cultures Collides” by Max Carter highlights the dynamics in BROAD generalities. West Bank and Gaza has the second lowest living standards with a population of 2.3 million which only heightens the political instability. On the other hand, Israelis are aware of their intelligence which makes them less likely to listen to “the other” who is unable to put themselves in the Israeli shoes. As an “obsession to survive,” Israelis want recognition of their state and are constantly anxious to protect the state. Despite the differences, the author of this article highlights a way to move toward resolution of this ongoing conflict. In viewing each other as “the other”, we put each other in compartments. By letting God be the boundary breaker, individuals can cross the lines and begin to see other from different perspectives. Only in this way will the demonized “other” become the neighbor, the friend, the brother, the sister.