I was in a settlement on the West Bank a couple of weeks ago. One Thursday evening I strolled, watching the sun set. A kid rode past on his bike. On his shirt was the phrase: “No Arabs / No terrorism.” The phrase isn’t true, of course. But it’s symmetrically true that “No Jews / No terrorism.” Both sides believe the other is the root of all evil, and believe it’ll all be fine if the other side would just cease to exist.
In the Cardo, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, were several upscale shops, catering to all the people who wouldn’t dare walk into the dark, twisted paths of the Arab shuq just a few feet beyond. Some sell jewelry, others T-shirts and other trinkets. Several, near the shuq, have paintings and silk screen pictures. I was admiring the watercolors on several, the pastoral quality, the golden light that surrounded the Old City… until I realized that neither inside the walls, nor off in the distance could one see any trace of Islam. Gone was the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Gone were the minarets – except for the Tower of David. One painting had a small forest where the Golden Dome now rests. Others had the Third Temple standing on a clean slate of Jerusalem stone.
Arab pictures, whether digitally edited or painted similarly ignore the realities of the Jewish Quarter and its inhabitants. These delusional images, joyously created, sold and distributed, merely add to the insanity that is the Middle East conundrum, best summed up in one of J.K. Rowling’s books describing the core prophetic vision: “…for neither can live while the other survives.”
Neither Syria nor Jewish racists nor Hammas, Hizbullah, or any other person or group can change a simple fact: until both sides learn to live in peace, people will die on both sides. And neither side will run out of victims anytime soon. The sooner we all accept, however grudgingly, this fact, the sooner we can get started on realizing a version of our lives that has two nations existing side by side.