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Musings on the Middle East:

To kill or not to kill? That is the question.

I have been listening to different viewpoints and sitting with the longstanding paradox of Israel and Palestine.

In the narratives there are ‘facts’, there are interpretations of other’s actions and there are cherished desires. All of these are vital in understanding what’s going on.


* Jewish Perspective

We survived centuries of persecution, hounded from one place to the next, never safe or fully accepted. Then we were devastated by the Nazi holocaust and attempted genocide. The biblical dream of a homeland became an imperative. We will no longer be victims. We will do anything and everything to build and protect our beloved haven.

* Palestinian Perspective

We tried sharing our land with the neighbouring Jews but they kept pouring in from around the world. Many of us were rendered homeless, powerless. Then one refugee population, millions squashed into the tiny Gaza strip, went from scarcity to crushing poverty after Israel and allies created a trade blockade. We will do anything and everything to restore our way of life to a thriving one.


“ They are vicious monsters, bent on destroying us, unable to be reasoned with”

When conflict becomes violent, survival instinct kicks in. Empathy shuts down and our animal-lizard reaction is fight or flight. It’s Us or Them. Prolonged conflict creates a permanent state of agitation as the perceived cause becomes demonised. WE are all good, THEY are all bad.

if we look to the experience of enlightened parents, teachers and family therapists we get a different picture. The child that is wild and violent can change to become calm and caring. it takes great patience, love and understanding. They need to see that their cherished desires are valued.

This applies equally to a disempowered or terrified population who are acting out their fears and frustrations.


We cannot change the past but we can reconsider our interpretation of it.

The future is entirely in our hands. From trauma studies we learn that hurt people hurt people, because patterns of distress and pain have a compulsive way of repeating themselves.

We also learn that this is not inevitable. There is a road to healing trauma and to thriving. The key is integration. We embrace all feelings with respect - grief, terror, pain, loss as well as hope and desire.

At this point we find that The Other is not a demon and has much in common with Us. Then we redefine Us to include all living, breathing humans. We will co-create peace and prosperity.

Stefan Freedman

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