Normally, I try to avoid writing about political issues, especially sensitive and complicated ones, I prefer to write about my personal experiences. Nevertheless, I feel that it is my duty this time to present the situation and to explain it, the way I see it.  I am quite sure that most of you had already heard about the three Israeli teenagers who went missing in the West Bank on June 12th. Probably many of you also saw somewhere, the social media campaign #bringbackourboys. The three missing teens are Naftali Frankel (16, from Nof Ayalon), Gilad Shaer (16, from Talmon), and Eyal Yifrah (19, from Elad), who were kidnapped outside their settlement, while they were hitchhiking, on the way back from school. Israeli Prime Minister- Netanyahu blames Hamas for kidnapping the boys, but so far, Hamas denied the charge.

So where to start? This scenario is so complicated and sensitive for many different people. In general, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is so complicated otherwise someone would have solved it by now. Like many times before, I find myself literally ‘in the middle’ it is very hard for me to take sides, my heart always goes out to both sides. Yet, my aim is not to take any side, but to present the complexity of the situation.

This situation can be seen from several different aspects. First there is the human aspect, which I believe many people around the world can identify with. Harming innocent civilians is illegitimate on both sides. It is not possible to ignore the pain and suffering of those boys’ mothers, fathers, and grandparents and of course the boys themselves. Watching their mothers on television is absolutely heart breaking. At the same time, it is not possible to ignore the pain and the suffering of the Palestinian civilians, who their lives turned into chaos since the IDF started the search after the kidnapped boys. It seems that on both sides human rights are being completely forgotten. Israeli teens cannot return home safe from school, and Palestinian men, women and children cannot go on with their lives. 680 thousand inhabitants of Hebron district are restricted in their movement. And 13,000 inhabitants who have permits to work in Israel cannot go out and support their families. (From “Bezelem” facebook page).

In the political international aspect all these become even more complex when two days ago the mothers of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal went to Geneva to give a speech in a Meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. This affects very much the image of the state of Israel. Many people ask how it is possible to let three Israeli mothers to give a speech in a human rights conference while the state of Israel regularly violates the Palestinian human rights in the West Bank. Moreover, some say, that it seems like the Israeli government is trying to make a good ‘use’ of this moment and to destroy many people’s lives in the West Bank. And again, what about the human rights of the three Israeli teens, what is the rest of the world suppose to do? Can the UN ignore this horrible kidnapping? How can the state of Israel demands from the rest of the world for support and sympathy, while many argue that these teens and their families should not be living in the West Bank in the first place.

Complicated right? It is definitely not an easy situation. Like I mentioned earlier, personally I am very much in the middle, I understand both sides. Being abroad while these things happen gives another perspective and I am glad to have a chance to see the wider picture and to consume different types of news. It is very easy to critique Israel outside of it, and very easy to critique the Palestinians while you are in Israel. For me, it is important to say that in both sides there is a great deal of pain and suffering. I don’t compare one to another; this is not a competition to see who suffers more. Both sides are paying an enormous price because of this situation. I hope Naftali, Gilad and Eyal will be back very soon to their parents, and I wish that the Palestinians can have their lives back, normal lives. Above all I wish this violent to end; nothing good comes out of it, never.

Shalom! Salaam! Peace!


Ronie Barel

verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland, activist, blogger

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