While engaging in conversation with Israeli-Jews and Palestinians about the annexation and structural racism, I noticed a common denominator across the fragmented segments of our societies – nobody thinks that the political reality is going to improve, and we will never achieve reconciliation. I often hear fatalistic phrases such as, “racism will always exist, we cannot change human nature”, and “there will never be peace, we will always be at war—it is easier to just accept it”. Indeed, embracing a fatalistic outlook on life is not created in a vacuum. To think about all the harmful ideologies and theologies, political and economic inequalities, ethnic-religious discrimination and racism, loneliness and social exclusion is just overwhelming. Let alone if you decide to care.
Working in reconciliation comes with plenty of disappointments and difficulties. People constantly question the value of peace efforts: “Does it really work?”, and “The situation is getting worse, what is Musalaha’s relevance?”. Over the span of 30 years, some of our participants started enthusiastically but could not handle external pressures from their surrounding environment. Others have decided to embrace a fatalistic mindset and stopped caring. Some others for whatever reasons have evolved into racist bigots (excuse my politically correct language). Yet, there are some that have never given up and created a committed network of people impacting society by pursuing reconciliation.
Interestingly, Amal-Tikva, a new initiative seeking to mobilize peacebuilding efforts, published a unique report in April 2020 called The State of Cross-Border Peacebuilding Efforts that offers insights into peacebuilding efforts. The report analyses the needs of Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations. The researchers conducted 100 individual interviews with 52 Israeli and Palestinian organizations, 23 philanthropists, and other experts in the field.
The report has both positive and negative findings regarding the peacebuilding field in Israel/Palestine. However, I would like to highlight three positive findings that may give encouragement and hope.
In other words, to have a fatalistic mindset is an easy escape of responsibility and leads down a dangerous path depending on your position of power within society. For those that are privileged, you may become apathetic and stop caring about others. And for those that are underprivileged and suffer the greatest under systematic violence, you may have a greater tendency to retaliate. I find it ironic that we are quick to complain about the conflict, but it seems to be an area that we least care to invest our energy, time and effort in. The truth is that we are all part of the problem, but do you have the will to be part of the solution?
Musalaha Business and Organization Development – Daniel Munayer