For one of the first times in years, Israel has been making headlines without being accused of terrorism, murder and apartheid. It’s a shame it took 80, 000 families being displaced from their homes in Haifa alone to get the international community to see Israelis as humans, rather than monsters.
It’s also a shame that it took such drastic measures for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to come together for the greater good of saving human lives, regardless of religion, nationality and beliefs. Forty-one firefighters and eight trucks were sent by President Abbas to Haifa in order to fight the blaze alongside their Israeli counterparts. There was no bitterness or resentment to be seen on either side; simply a group of people helping their neighbours in need.
This extension of an olive branch by Abbas could be the start of a new relationship between Israelis and Palestinians and Israel’s reaction – and that of the international Jewish community – to this olive branch will be crucial in determining the future of potential peace in the Middle East.
They can choose to hold onto anger from the past; remember the terrorists yielding knives and Molotov cocktails, killing innocent children in their sleep or the elderly sitting having a coffee in a restaurant – and nobody would blame them for it; those acts were horrifying and should never be forgotten. But holding onto that anger will get us nowhere. Rather, focusing on moving forward, building relationships based on trust – albeit extremely cautious trust – and a mutual desire for peace is the only way that an end to the constant death and terrorism will ever be achieved.
Some may call me naive. Some may tell me I’m stupid or deluded for thinking that there will ever be peace between the two groups, that the Palestinians will allow Israelis to live on their land undisrupted, each keeping to themselves. But, clearly, there are some – even if they are few in number – that want the same on the other side. And if we don’t try, then not only will we never find out, but how can we stand up tall on the international platform, proudly claiming to be the bigger party, the better of the two sides? They have stretched out an olive branch, and if we don’t accept, then the flood may never end.
Ellie Hyman, a second year student at Durham University, is the latest member of the JC’s growing blogging team.