It’s worth repeating that we should all be working and/or (at the very least) hoping for the safe return of three teenagers who were kidnapped days ago in the occupied territories. Now the question has been asked: Is it insensitive to talk about building a just peace based on self-determination for all peoples right now?
It is insensitive to all of the past, present, and future victims of aggression here to avoid talking about the context of this kidnapping as well as the ensuing rise in violence. It is insensitive to steer clear of the conversation on how to stop violence and end the occupation. It is insensitive at a time like this – while saying loud and clear that those three students must be returned safe, sound, and soon – to pretend that all of this is happening in a vacuum, because that is a game that leads to more hate and violence.
As some steer clear of talk about the broader context, crass politicians like the Prime Minister dictate the dominant discourse. His story is focused on blaming instead of searching, and that is somehow acceptable, while looking for real answers is not? As he works to deepen divides, criticism is aimed at those working toward critical understanding of the situation, and perhaps a just peace. It matters that there is an occupation and that in the West Bank one set of people are protected by democratic rights while another lives under martial law with barriers, checkpoints, and soldiers running their lives, and no, acknowledging that fact does not make you somehow care less about the safe return of those kidnapped teenagers.
Nothing justifies the kidnapping of these three teenagers – proponents of a just and peaceful future must actively condemn it and other acts of violence – and it takes a lot to feel pain here and now, while striving to look forward. I have no doubt that we (humans) have that capacity. As well, there is something important in the moment(s) of just feeling and certainly some need just that. However, we should be calling for an end to the occupation in the times when Israelis have forgotten that it exists and in the times when it is hard to hear. Here’s the thing about calling for real and fundamental change: We have to be for it all the time. If we avoid the discussion about the roots of violence right now, we are being insensitive to the future victims of today’s violence.