I have recently liked two groups on facebook: 'Palestine Loves Israel' and 'Israel Loves Palestine'. I didn't know they existed until I read what I think is the best piece I have read on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but I am glad to have found them. They put everything into perspective.
Whilst I sit here and argue with people on Facebook on whether or not Israel is committing genocide; post links complaining about BBC bias; and try to expose Hamas' use of human shields and their culpability in Palestinian deaths there are Palestinians, innocent civilians like you and me, fleeing their homes, living in fear and dying.
Whilst pro-Palestinians accuse Israel of genocide; suggest all Jews are responsible for the shelling of Gaza; blockade Jews inside Synagogues and the anti-Zionist-but-not-anti-Semitic brigade are out in force on twitter and the streets, innocent civilians are running from rocket attacks, living in fear and, also, dying.
Whilst we all rush to lay blame at the feet of Hamas or the feet of Israel homes are being reduced to rubble, livelihoods destroyed and families destroyed.
Whilst we all clamber to the moral high ground, accusing pro-Palestinians of deafening silence over Syria and Iraq or hiding anti-Semitism behind the cloak of legitimate criticism of Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian people, there are two groups of people who just want to earn a wage, feed their families and enjoy their lives.
Enough really is enough. I've had enough. I don't want to argue against ignorant anti-Semites on Facebook and Twitter anymore. It won't get me anywhere. I don't want to have constructive discussions with intelligent critics of Israel about settlements and Israeli policy. It won't get peace any nearer.
It's time for more of us regular civilians, pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian and hopefully pro-both, to 'like' Palestine Loves Israel and Israel Loves Palestine on Facebook and listen to stories from civilians under fire. It's time for more of us, including myself, to stop engaging in fruitless Facebook discussions. And what is more, it is time for peace. Peace doesn't come if you can prove Israel acted disproportionately. Peace doesn't come if you can prove that Palestinian deaths are tragic but somehow inevitable and therefore okay. We, mostly, all want the same things. Israelis no more want to live under fire than Palestinians want them to live under fire. Palestinians no more want to be shelled and live under Hamas than Israelis want them to be shelled and live under Hamas. When we realise that, we may get closer to peace.
Peace comes when you reach out to what is the other side in a genuine attempt to understand their situation and realise that we're all the same.