We Are Destined to Share This Land

This is the third in a series of essays by feminists responding to the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. 

As the situation here in this land continues to spiral further out of control, it is hard to continue to find words to express the heartbreak and devastation.

My heart is with my friends across Israel and especially in the south and the center under massive rocket attacks, who are running back and forth from shelters or simply gave up and put their children to sleep in safe rooms tonight. And my heart is also with parents and children in Gaza who have no shelters to run to and will simply sit in their homes in unsubsiding fear. 

My heart is sick at the rising toll of Israelis killed so far by rocket attacks from Hamas. My heart is broken by the dozens of deaths so far in Gaza, including several children. The senseless loss of so much life, so many entire worlds, is devastating, not least due to the knowledge that both our government and Hamas will use each death as a rationale to escalate even further. 

My heart is also broken by the rapid disintegration, in times like these, of nearly any recognition of the humanity of all those suffering right now in this holy, desecrated land. My Facebook feed is diverse enough to be filled with nearly identical posts by both Israelis and Palestinians, each mourning the losses on their own side, each appealing to the world watching us to have compassion and empathy for their own side’s victims, while ignoring or even willfully denying any suffering or right to empathy and justice on the other. 

And all I can think, as always, is how intertwined and inextricable our stories are, how tightly linked our futures. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians are going anywhere because most of us have nowhere else to go. We are destined to share this land. Neither of us can possibly win until we find a way for all of us to win. 

In this moment, I am so grateful to have friends, colleagues, and soul partners on “both sides,” who help anchor me and inspire me to keep striving for more, for a better future for this land and all its inhabitants, even when the future seems totally bleak. We are not destined for endless conflict. There is enough abundance here for all of us. 

As I lie here unable to fall asleep amidst the now familiar soundtrack of distant explosions in East Jerusalem, I’m praying for a quick ceasefire and halt to all violence. And then, exhorting us all to hold tightly to the sense of urgency we feel right now, to work not just for a lack of violence but for a future of justice, security, equality, freedom, and flourishing for all.

Leah Solomon is the Chief Educational Officer of Encounter, an educational organization working toward informed, courageous and resilient American & Israeli Jewish communal leadership on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict