Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Roses and Honey

Politics are never easy. Everyone has their own opinion, their own political affiliation and their own perception. Trying to explain what it means, or where you stand, can be confusing and infuriating. Trying to understand these explanations can be downright maddening.

The last 6 days have been a whirlwind of political emotions for me. I came here thinking I was set in my self-declared right wing opinion. But, as the speakers progressed I felt more and more drawn to the left. Why? We heard many speakers, but until today I did not feel that any speaker was being honest or forthcoming. I felt that I was hearing the opinions that were convenient to convey, rather than all sides of the story. The speakers we heard until now, although all very intelligent, spewed out a lot of right-wing, sometimes narrow-minded facts. Sorry, that doesn't cut it for me. I want to hear the meat, the details, and yes, the ugly truth.
I am a critical thinker. How can I critically approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or properly advocate for Israel on my campus, when I don’t have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing BUT the truth? Up until this point, I felt like I've been getting half-truths. When I asked one of our speakers about the ethics of the settlers in Hevron, Rather than giving me a proper, evidence-based answer, the response I got was “That’s simply nonsense; the Israeli settlers would never do that.” Some of the other questions were partially answered, a lot of politically correct terminology had been thrown around, but I hadn't gotten the meat, the honesty.

Today, that changed. Today we got to converse with Inon Tagner. Among other things, Inon told us about the struggles the Israeli-Arabs face in Israel. He spoke of the discrimination, but also the privileges. We heard about the intricate and sometimes exasperating legalities and parties in the Israeli Parliament. Most of all, we heard another side. He told us why the 1.4 million Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship, and about the tensions between the Palestinian-Arabs and Israeli-Arabs. Nothing was sugar-coated or made to sound like “roses and honey” as Inon explained. The half-truth we had been getting until now suddenly fit into the whole truth.

Not to say that one side is more correct than the other or that there is a more “truthful” truth. But, no story should be taken at face value; no ‘truth’ should go unquestioned. We should always feel like we are getting all the facts, not just the convenient ones. We need to arm ourselves with every piece of knowledge and information we can. If we don’t let ourselves hear every side of the truth, even the ugly parts, how can we truly advocate for Israel?

In my journey in the last 7 days, I did not once doubt my desire to be a pro-Israel advocate on my campus. I love Israel. For me, asking tough questions, and getting painful answers is the best and only way to advocate for Israel in the most honest and effective way possible. 


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