Not Everything is conflict

Amal Abu Zeidan


The preoccupation with Jewish-Arab relations, whether in the framework of professional work or part of daily life, brings us directly or indirectly to confront the conflict and the politics of the conflict. In my many meetings with activists in the practical sphere and in Arab Jewish dialogue, it seems that always, consciously or unconsciously, we relate to every area of life only from the perspective of how they relate to the conflict and to relation between the majority and the minority. This attitude has become axiomatic.
I don't want to discuss the conflict or majority-minority relations here. Ample research and literature cover this area. Rather, I would like to discuss our dive into the depths of the conflict, to the point where the thought that perhaps not everything is about the conflict has disappeared from our world. I can't, and will not try, to prove the justice of this claim.
It is clear to me that the conflict projects on to our reality, but it is also clear to me that that reality is complex and is not one-dimensional. And in our reality there are dynamics of relations between Jews and Arabs that are not necessarily products of the conflict.. or perhaps they are, depending on one's viewpoint.
Thus, for example, one can see Arabs and Jews working together in certain places where the atmosphere is not political or connected directly to the conflict. Of course, not everything can be given a rosy description, nor can one deny that tensions arise that can be due to the influence of majority-minority relations in a conflict situation, or not in a conflict situation. Nonetheless, relationships between Arabs and Jews of all sectors do develop, and not always does one feel, at least explicitly, the intervention of the conflict.
In other places, Jews and Arabs come in mutual contact as a matter of necessity. Here every type of development of relations is possible, from formal relations to warm friendship and even love. Love in a conflict situation has a special status as I see it... I know it happens and will happen, and perhaps it is for the best...

In the activities and meetings in which I take part that are concerned with praxis and with Jewish-Arab dialog, and likewise in my discussions with Jewish and Arab friends, the conflict is always, always touched upon. Lately I have begun to wonder whether everything is real about the conflict, or whether, perhaps, we feel that it is our duty to insert the conflict into every area, without getting to the bottom of every question. The dilemma is not easy, but sometimes when I have discussions with myself, I come to different insights that do not impinge on the conflict and do not need to be tied to the conflict. This arises also from awareness that our influence on solving the conflict as individuals is limited. Therefore, it is perhaps good for all of us to free ourselves somewhat of the chains that we have inherited from our education and from the conflict, and to think of the factors from other directions, that can be seen as a compass pointing to Jewish-Arab relations as human beings, as individuals, and as national groups, such as universal and human values that are suitable for every time and place. The initiative is not easy, but it can be the start of a significant process. It would be good to be active partners in shaping this process. And now is the time to start.

Amal Abu Zeidan


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Comment by Yigal D. Kahana on July 15, 2008 at 11:02pm
I agree with you 100%.
I think I've been saying that all along.

The "universal and human values that are suitable for every time and place.' are the fundamental human rights.
We can teach by our own mepeace example how the freedom to exercise those rights makes us the diverse and rich group we are, and will do the same for all of us when implemented on a large sociopolitical scale.
Now is the time to start.
BTW- please see the blog I started on some of the historical background that proves that human rights are a necessary in order for a society to maximize its social harmony and productivity.
I've discussed teaching some version of this material to students in the WB/Palestine with some other mepeacers.
Not getting much follow-up, yet, though.


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