Solutions to Violent Conflict

Challenging the Israeli Narrative from Within

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

Atalia Omer

During the intense days of  “Operation Protective Edge,” in an atmosphere of intimidation and growing self-protectionist groupthink within Israel, thousands of Israelis nonetheless flooded the main squares of cities protesting the occupation, the massacres in Gaza, and the racism and chauvinism that surfaced in explosive and shocking ways.

It is important to identify who these voices of dissent are, what they argue, and how they fit within the broader landscape of Palestine solidarity activism and regional peacebuilding efforts. Doing so means avoiding fatalistic attitudes and navigating the polarizing opinions and interests related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Traditionally, the mainstream peace movement in Israel was called the “loyal” left—with “loyal” being shorthand for a commitment to peace that does not challenge the political experiment with Jewish democracy. This loyal opposition has struggled to recover from the failure of the Oslo Accords of 1993, evident in the eruption of the Second Intifada or Palestinian uprising in 2000. One of the blinders of the movement has been its willingness to accept the Green Line of 1967 as not only a spatial boundary but also a normative one.

The Continuing Cycle of Violence in Gaza

In Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:44 am
UNRWA - Gaza

UN Photo: Shareef Sarhan, July 2014

Asher Kaufman

Since the mid-1990s, Israel has attempted to separate the fate of Gaza from that of the West Bank. The 2005 “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip was the most dramatic step of this policy. There were at least two reasons for the decision to withdraw from Gaza. First, Israel wanted to reduce the “demographic threat” to the Jewish State at a minimum territorial cost. Second, by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel hoped to strengthen its control over the West Bank.

Hamas’s victory in the January 2006 Palestinian elections and its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in July 2007 turned this region into the main frontline for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Buttressed by its commitment to the armed struggle against Israel, Hamas and other Islamist organizations aggressively sought to demonstrate that Gaza is only one piece of the Palestine puzzle and that they would not allow Israel to achieve its strategic goals.

The Pope’s Appeal to Conscience

In Catholic, Israel/Palestine conflict, Middle East on September 29, 2014 at 9:43 am

Patrick Gaffney, C.S.C.

In terms of media reporting, public debate, and partisan polemics, the recent conflict in Gaza can be characterized like its predecessors as a military confrontation and diplomatic poker game between Israel and Hamas. But on a deeper level this latest tragic chapter, like the others, belongs to a larger picture that is difficult to shrink down and fit into the vocabulary of the nightly news roundup.


In order to understand the conflict in Gaza, one must understand this larger picture. Those who speak for this other dimension, this larger picture, do not compete in the same arena as politicians, diplomats and soldiers for whom war is a matter of winning or losing. Instead, these other voices engage the same pressing issues, but in a way that expands the boundaries of discourse from the immediate strategies at hand to a concern for and recognition of their fundamental human consequences.

This other dimension goes by different names. For the sake of brevity here I will call it conscience. By this, I am pointing to the reflective awareness of a law higher than national sovereignty, a source of moral discrimination that is not justified by ethnic or religious belonging, by party loyalty, by self-interest, by dominant power, or by collective desire.


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