Saturday, 17 September 2011

Breaking the Silence

Two days since I posted - can't let this go on and yet really can't think what to write about.

Not that there aren't a zillion possible subjects. It's more that any which one of them would unearth a whole heap of issues, and identify those who may at this point in time truly not be ready to be outed in a blog. Even a blog such as this with a relatively small number of followers and page views, highly unlikely to be featured in the tabloids or glossy magazines.

Which of course is one of the reasons why I'm hesitating about writing my best selling novel. I've said this before but budding writers are told to write about that which is real to them. About friends and family, about things that make us laugh and cry, about issues we worry about or cause us to lose sleep over.

How do you do this without someone reading and realising that actually that person is them? Flattering maybe to recognise yourself as the leading character - but what if you don't like them much? Or perhaps to see in a supporting character aspects of your personality that you are less than proud of - does that encourage you to accept them? Or make you more determined to sort them out - and does it matter?

There must be a skill involved - a way of using life's experiences to construct a story that won't cause offence to anyone. But perhaps the more you worry about that the harder it gets. Maybe the thing to do is keep on keeping on, writing what you will and worrying less about how it sounds to others. Don't hold back and keep quiet, instead Break the Silence ...

And having said all of this there is now little time to write about anything of any consequence. Except - today - I heard someone talk about this very subject - Breaking the Silence.

This guy was an Israeli soldier. He spoke honestly, openly and vividly about what it was to control the Palestinian people by force. His admissions made my blood run cold.

It made me think - as did the conversation I had on the doorstep yesterday - that sometimes we don't take the time to explain things simply enough.

It's not as though no one has heard about the Middle East. About the rocket attacks, suicide bombs, settlements and security barrier. But how many people understand what's going on there? I find it hard to explain and I've not only worked at Christian Aid for 8 years but visited the West Bank myself.

I'll write more later but for now all I want to say is this. For four and a half decades, over four million Palestinian people have lived under military occupation. When we talked about people being "pro Palestinian" at lunchtime today this ex-soldier challenged us bluntly "after four and a half decades, where are the pro Palestianians"?

To my mind nothing can excuse an act of terrorism. But how can we ever begin to understand what it is like to be constantly harassed by an occupying force; to be separated from our land and family by an 8 metre high concrete wall; to be stopped and searched at checkpoints including flying checkpoints that spring up at random places; to not be allowed to use certain roads; to have your water supply under the control of an occupying force; I could go on - and I am sure that I will do another time.

The ex Israeli soldiers who are Breaking the Silence and speaking out are putting themselves on the line. Risking the disapproval of friends and family, way beyond that you could expect by writing an amusing story on a blog. Lots to think about, talk about and perhaps even to pray about.

And then to better understand and share with others; as the lovely lady on the doorstep yesterday said "if ordinary people knew about this then governments would have to take action"

Amen to that.

1 comment:

  1. I've met a small number of serving IDF in Israel. I've had friends who were serving and ex members of UK forces who had seen active (ie killing people) service.
    There's something about the attitude of all the military people I've met that left me colder. I guess what affected me most is that people can be trained to be ready to kill other peopl; not just in the 'do or die', 'you or me' moments but also planned lethal actions from a safe distance that will wipe out others.
    The guy who I understood least was an Israel Palestinian from a village in Galilee who flew with the IDF. One of only two Palestinian Israels he said, who did that. As we sat talking in a home of his relative, a good friend of mine, he took his hand gun out of his trouser belt because it was uncomfortable there. He sat flipping it from hand to hand as he spoke about the need for 'security'.