Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

I have only been there once, but still, when I hear the name Israel my senses are set sharp. There is something addictive about it and I haven’t figured out yet what it is; the food, or the people, or the climate, or maybe it’s just because it’s in the news all the time. Of course, having many Israeli friends certainly helps you getting interested in the cause, but the last year I had the feeling that something was pulling me over to the other side more and more.

The conflict has caught me since I was 18, but the remarkable thing is that my opinion was never solid. I started off as very Pro-Israel, but over the years, I have also realized what impact the media has had on my perception. It is then that I started to digg deeper into the matter. And it was only after reading Joris Luyendijks book that my interest for the Palestinian cause was triggered as well. Before, I had only seen them as ‘the other’ bluntly said, all making the Arabic conspiracy complete. After reading the book ‘het zijn net mensen‘, I realized the incredible difficult position the Palestinians are facing, living under a double dictatorship without having a clearly defined peace of land. And maybe this sounds rather obvious nowadays, but I wonder how many people have thought the same with me 2 years ago…

The next question is: what can we do about it? The first time I heard about youth media was when one of my friends went to Israel with a program called Holyswitch. Joyce went to Jerusalem to increase mutual understanding between Israeli and Palestinian youth through blogging. Teenagers from both sides were asked to take up the dialogue and try to understand more of each others’ culture. Although this sort of projects might be done regularly, hearing the experiences of a friend always makes it more compelling. At the same time, it makes me feel hopelessly powerless. The amount of projects must be quite numerous, and still, what have they reached? The average Israeli still sees the Palestinian as a terrorist and the Palestinians just think of Israeli’s of the suppressor that stole their land. But I start to see the use of smaller scale projects more and more.

Grassroots projects are often trying to make a difference in communities rather than on a national level. Can smaller media projects then offer a solution? Does Internet provide a new way of understanding and offering dialogue where both parties can carefully explore enemy’s terrain? Maybe we should all stop to aim for the bigger crowd, but rather focus on small scale levels. Then again, I guess we need organizations such as the UN as an overlooking organ and that can also get on the government level.

I feel lost. Should we go top-down or bottom up? Is there a way to meet in the middle? Or do we keep missing each other? SOS, how do we save the world?