“I think we have solved the mystery. ”
What mystery Sherlock, you say?
There are not two sides. There are only two paths.
The mystery is this- that in the Israel Palestine war, there has been the tendency of great peace loving and peace promoting programs to always keep insisting, “There are two sides here.” “We have to feel into the other’s reality” and “Validate the other’s pain” and ” Speak to our enemy to discover our shared humanity.” On the surface, these are brave and noble sentiments.
Apart from feeling like this is a memo leaked from a Buddhist retreat or that Jesus returned and no one got the press release, there is also something intensely odd and disturbing about this framing of the war that just killed over 60 children, with no apology or remorse.
Critics will say to us, be sure to mention both sides, so I will: 62 Gazan kids and 2 Israeli kids. That is how crazy two-sided fairness looks like. If I said the side of the square is 62 inches on one side and 2 inches on the other side, what sort of square is that, since sides are geometric?
TAKING SIDES OR TAKING PATHS
When the world decided that South Africa’s cruel apartheid regime had committed enough atrocities to earn zero tolerance, there was never any conversation about “Two Sides,” unless that was coming from Apartheid’s two last supporters, Israel and the USA. That would have been both ludicrous and offensive. The Trumpian trope “Good people on both sides” did not cloud what was then such a clear case of conscience.
When 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered by the Turks, or when the British starved 8 million Irish during the Great Famine, or when Lieutenant William Calley ordered the execution of women and children at My Lai, Vietnam, history decided that there were no two sides. There was never a search for a good Turk who only half massacred the Armenians, or a good German who only half gassed the Jewish victims, or the good Israeli who only half dispossessed the 300,000 villages of Palestine in 1948 and then said sorry. No, the clarity that comes with time makes pretty clear who is on the right side of history. Could that be what the two sides really means, the right side and the wrong side of history? Hang in there, for that is where we are heading.
Who ends up on the wrong side of history, I hear you ask? It gets clearer and clearer.
Those that supported slavery, those that supported denying women the vote, those that thought that being gay was a disease or a sin, those that said black and white could not marry, those that denied humanity to autistic kids, or who thought lepers were a plague sent from God. Can you sense a theme here?
Police who beat up and kill black youth because they can, men who use their power to sexually harass women, investment firms that run ponzi schemes, bigots who target citizens because they are Jewish or Muslim, pharma companies that knowingly sell addictive pain killers and make billions, Presidents who lie so much that they lie about lying. History ends up not being on their side, or not for long.
History gets written by the victors, true enough, but it gets rewritten by the victims to show that humanity is on a slow march towards dignity and freedom and those that get in the way, those that deny any part of their humanity, or anyone else’s God-given rights are heading down a path to perdition. That means that where once controversy demanded two sides, the issue eventually matures to conscience clarity. What happens then is the two sides morph into a fork in the road. You take one or the other.
That is what has happened this week in Gaza. The two sides keep insisting that tragedy also happened in Ashdod and Ashkelon, but no, it did not. It happened with the 62 dead children of Gaza who are mostly descendants of the Palestinian families of Ashdod and Ashkelon forced by Zionist Colonizers into Gaza as refugees in 1948. The truth finally comes home in the form of a primitive, poorly aimed rocket. They could shelter from the rockets but not from the truth.
Once we start to speak about two paths, we hear the ancient echoes of its origins. It is not Robert Frost’s famous poem “Two Roads diverge” but a source even more honored and revered. When we find it, we suddenly see how it could have morphed into the tragic confusion of our times, this “two sides” feint that cloaks evil in the livery of good.
Here is the expert on the Two paths, two ways: Many of you will recognize it.
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
This is none other than King David’s Psalm 1.
Brother, do not tell me what side you follow. Rather tell me what path you are on.
This week, in the wake of another lopsided war, the world is slowly waking up. The programs I have worked with and have founded, so devoted to the “Two Sides” of tolerance and compassion and the shared humanity of dialog and empathy have been bombed into truth. Screaming and shouting, we have had to stop our two sided feint and choose an unambiguous path as the Psalmist lays it out for us.
Anyone who accuses us of being one sided is now in the way, not on the way, the way to the realization of this searing truth. The issue has suddenly emerged from the propaganda of an occupying army to reveal how we find the path back. For so long, we have been history’s unwitting puppets.
Partition was what destroyed the indigenous people of Palestine and all our good will hunting on peace programs have only served to make that partition deeper and more rancorous. Now we must return to the path. Before there might be two sides. Now there is only one way out of our culpable ignorance.
There can be zero tolerance for apartheid in any form, and for abuse under any guise, and we cannot gently oppose any racism shielded by any law, or any corruption dressed in the holy grail of profits. There are no two sides between truth and lies, or between exploitation and respect, and there are no two sides to this issue of Israel and Palestine. There never was. There is only the path of righteousness and truth on one side, and the path to darkness on the other.
The time has come- Don’t pick a side- Chose a path. That is what will make all the difference.