A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
My friends have asked me what I think about the violence in Israel/Palestine. I spent three years covering the Middle East and a year on a UN writing fellowship designed to help people understand the Palestinian economy. About 25% of Palestinians live on less than $5.5 a day.
This week, I saw Trevor Noah take to the air with an approach that he likely believes could help Americans who sympathize with Israel understand how badly mismatched the Palestinians are. That’s true. The last time the Israeli military bombarded Gaza, in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, an estimated 2,100 Palestinians died, according to the BBC. 495 were children. Hamas rockets killed 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians.
As a journalist, I’ve always thought it was my job to find and tell the stories of the underdogs.
I grew up in America believing, because of the Holocaust and because we’ve been told, that Israel was the underdog. You get to Israel/Palestine and discover how much agony the Palestinians live in at the hands of the Israeli occupation. I saw an Israeli soldier torturing an elderly Gazan couple. The memory has haunted me for years.
Peace-loving Palestinians, of whom I met many, including these preschool teachers, are underdogs in many ways: They either live under an inept government, in Ramallah; a terror group, Hamas, functioning as a quasi-government in Gaza; or as second-class citizens in Israel.
Divide and conquer is a tool of the powerful.
But there is another side to the story. There is always another side. Individual Israelis feel genuinely betrayed by Palestinians – I experienced devastating betrayals in the Middle East, too. Tribal ties and intergenerational trauma make establishing trusting relationships nearly impossible. The United States doesn’t help: Our government needs Israel as a military and business ally, at the same time the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians challenges the values America likes to believe it stands for. In a diplomatic mismatch, weaker governments need a third party to stand with them, but the U.S. is inherently conflicted.
A young Israeli told me once, “We’ll change when you can promise us absolute security.”
No one gets absolute security in this world. Part of being human is being vulnerable.
Even those Israelis who want to live with Palestinians in one country fear that if they let their guard down, Hamas will throw its rockets; and knife and bomb attacks will escalate. The fear is rational. Terrorism all over the world means we all live with that fear every day, but in the close quarters of Israel/Palestine, it is magnified.
I came away from my time in the Holy Land believing the world won’t be at peace until there is peace there, the shared center of the world’s monotheistic religions. We want a clean and simple solution. But peace doesn’t come from reaching the right answer, only from endlessly reaching for fairness and justice for every individual, and accepting life in a state of uncertainty.
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Sumita Jonak sometimes ruffled feathers in her military days by questioning processes that were more difficult than they had to be. It was that same mindset that led her from counterterrorism operations to launching a cancer-screening startup after age 40. Plus: MIT seeks 15 entrepreneurs who have scaled for-profit companies in Africa, and Facebook’s Community Accelerator is on the hunt for communities that “have a presence in Facebook groups.”
You may have missed: A Palestinian Refugee Went From Mopping Floors In Burger King To Owning His Own Restaurant. Deen Haleem joined the Marines and served five tours, including in Iraq. Read it here.
Best practices: If you’re looking for insight into small businesses run by women and people of color, the Yelp Local Economic Impact Report is worth checking out. As the latest report notes, “Despite the challenges that face these underserved communities of business owners, Yelp data reveals how women, Black, and Latinx business owners across the nation have persevered. Based on these identity attributes, these diverse businesses are more likely to endure closing and reopening more than once compared to businesses overall.”
Buzzworthy: Why do people make poor decisions? And how can they make smarter ones? Noise: A Flaw In Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein looks at why humans are so vulnerable to static that affects their ability to assess the information in front of them and how they can counteract it.
Made in the USA: If you’re ramping up your post-pandemic health routine, splurging on a fancy Vitamix blender from the family-run firm in Olmsted Township, Ohio, founded in 1921, may be in order. Immersion blenders start at $149.95; other models go for $349.95 and up.