John Paul II Foundation / Magazine / Conversations / Palestine and Israel, so much remains to be said

Palestine and Israel, much remains to be said

The difficult and complicated times we are experiencing in these weeks after the inhumane attack carried out by Hamas toward Israeli civilians and the Israeli army's disproportionate and unjustifiable response toward the people of Gaza will certainly not be resolved by siding with the Israeli people or the Palestinian people.

Yet all those who care about the future and the coexistence of peoples are aware that without paving the way toward the construction of two states, that small territory in our world will become the place of greatest destabilization and a human powder keg capable of breaking the already unstable balance in the Middle East, the antechamber to a war of incalculable proportions and consequences for the entire planet.

The history that has traversed a land so cherished and loved by Christians, Jews and Muslims over the past 70 years is, in each of its events and occurrences, the true witness to the inability of all national and international institutions so far to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Basically, Hamas owes its emergence, development and acquisition of power within Gaza, and to some extent its ability to control the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living along the strip, primarily to three major political facts: A policy of unchecked expansionism on the part of Israel with its continuing settlements that illegally expropriate territories allocated to Palestinians; the current political inconsistency of the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority with an incompetent and corrupt ruling class; and the failure of international diplomacy, which has been absent for decades on the Israeli-Palestinian side of the issue.

Those who have had the opportunity in recent years to go to the Holy Land, not only to visit the holy sites of the three monotheistic religions, and have also had contact with the Palestinian people and the Israeli people (in its Jewish and Arab-Israeli components), have realized the complexity that is experienced every day in that land.

From the lack of hope in the future of Palestinians who daily have part of their land taken away to make room for Israeli settlements, to the need for Israelis to live based on exasperating security, which takes away their breath (and to some extent their freedom), to the compulsion to live in small towns to which people from the Arab-Israeli component (previously used to living in tribes and in nomadic form ) are often subjected, especially to implement control over them, by the central state.

To make this transition requires people who can see the different points of view, the reasons for one and the other, and then seek a way forward that can open up dialogue, with the understanding that each person must take a step back to take a step forward together, finally stepping out of their own perspective.

This is what in different words and images two great Israeli writers, our contemporaries, recently passed away, who lived through the more than 70 pass years of the State of Israel, Amos Oz and Abraham B. Yehoshua, indicate to us.

"So much remains to be said" is the title of the last lesson Oz left us. A lecture in which the great writer tells us about a disease that afflicts Israel, that of "returnism," or that of "looking in space, for something that has been lost in time."

He does so by taking as an example the desire to invade every corner of the occupied territories, which is becoming Israel's dominant theme. Even if the reconquest of all the land were achieved, this would not lead to the reconstruction of "that biblical landscape for which there is so much nostalgia."

But this does not mean that the people of Israel should not experience the nostalgia they feel, only they cannot experience it except inwardly by opening themselves to the future that history presents today; and the future can only be the building of two states.

He leaves us Amos Oz with a hope for the future: "man has an open ending... Somewhere was there is already among us the man and woman who will say to the Israelis: dear boys this operation must be done, you know it too. So let's do it. Because deep in our souls most of us, including a slice of right-wing voters, already know it."

Thus in different words and stories Abraham B Yehoshua, in his last book before his death, "The Third Temple," also leaves us with his hope. The third temple for the Orthodox Jewish tradition must arise at the site of the previous one destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., that is, on the present esplanade of mosques. This would cause, as Amos Oz also tells us, open warfare against all of Islam, in fact World War III.

Here in Yeoshua's novel appears a foreign woman Esther, a convert, who proposes the building of the temple "outside the walls of the old city, a modest, humble temple, between the tomb of Absalom and the valley of Gehenna."A temple that would not interfere with other religions, but would be a sign of true peace, the peace that Yehoshua himself and Amos Oz, pursued until their deaths.

It may sound like literature, poetry, but instead it is the hope that must not abandon us even today, because it is based on historical reality and the concreteness that no other future on that God-blessed Earth can exist except with the building of two states.

And it is Amos Oz himself in his book who reminds us that "a wound cannot be healed with a stick," and even for Israel there is only one hope to chase: "if there will not be here and rather soon, two states, then there will be only one. It would be sooner or later an Arab state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, where Jews would be a minority."

That is why Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire international community must draw inspiration and strength from the tragedy that occurred on Oct. 7 on Israeli soil and continues today in the Gaza Strip, to really begin the long journey that must lead to the building of the two states.

Pierluigi Ermini, is a public communicator, lover of writing, creator of the blog "Pierluigi's Paths" and Valdarno contact person for the Libera Association. 

"Conversations" is the magazine column of the John Paul II Foundation that brings together viewpoints on current issues, society, economics and culture. The goal is to offer a space for dialogue open to all where everyone is free to express their ideas. If you would like to contribute to the debate send us your article to the email

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