Is Peace N‘egg’lected in the Middle East?

With all the current events in the Middle East, I feel it is more than necessary to entrench peace in society. The more people who desire to put down their guns and pick up olive branches, the better. Ideas regarding peace can be found in some institutions, such as the University of Manchester’s Israel Palestine Forum, where talks such as Lydia Aisenberg’s discussion are held. As part of her tour around Britain spreading her beliefs, she came to Manchester University, talking about her life and work in Givat Haviva. Her first hand experiences were refreshing and relevant and it became apparent that having one political view was virtually impossible.

Solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are like a egg. The shell looks smooth, and unbroken just like an individuals initial solution to the conflict. However, once this fragile topic is cracked, personal issues and controversial ideals spill out, creating a messy problematic situation. Nevertheless Lydia tried to prove how some of this mess could be cleaned up, even though it would take time to fix all the cracks.

Lydia mentioned her upbringing being a Jewish minority in England before she moved to Israel, and proceeded to share how working in Givat Haviva- an educational foundation seeking peace, became a part of her life. Interestingly, Lydia proved how one can be a Zionist yet desire peace in Israel, which at first could seem quite contradictory. However, it came to my attention that this did not always have to be the case. Personally, I have a Zionist conscience, yet prior to Lydia’s talk did not know whether one could be a complete supporter of Israel, as well as desire peace. Nevertheless this stereotype manipulates the truth.

Sympathy was raised to the Palestinian cause, as Lydia painted the picture of how her village got split in two by the green line. She watched Palestinians lose their identity, while Zionism was unravelling in the Holy land, and thus watched sparks turn to fire between the two sides.

I feel Lydia’s work on Givat Haviva deserves much credit as she  pays her respects to both Palestinians and Israeli’s, attempting to create peaceful ties within society through education. Although this may seem like an romantic claim, peaceful ideals have to start somewhere. Her activism for peace is a very bold move yet must be praised, in order to keep peaceful ideas alive. She claimed situations like the Gaza/Israel situation in 2012 does feel like all her hard work was unraveling before her eyes. However these pessimistic views need to be ignored. Her work is still spreading peaceful messages which can be seen from many talks she has given in Britain, inspiring all kinds of people.

Throughout the talk, in the back of my mind, I knew I had heard Lydia before, and eventually made the connection that four years ago I attended a seminar at Givat Haviva on RSY Netzer’s Israel tour. Her inspirational talk stuck with me for years and I hope it has done the same for many people today. Not only did I find her talk fascinating in 2009, but my view of the conflict had been permanently altered. I perceived society differently, with optimism that peace could be achieved. Hearing her talk again made me realise that although harmonious relations may not be in walking distance, there is a place in society for peaceful relations. If work like Lydia and Givait Haviva carries on, humanity has some hope of being restored.


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