“He walked in and I got up and shook his hand and thanked him for coming.” –Jo Berry.

Watch: Beyond Right and Wrong

I am a Jewish, white kid. I grew up (still growing, hopefully), went to Hebrew school and got a Jewish education. I was taught to be a Zionist, taught to give to the IDF, taught to support the Israelis in the fight over the Palestinians. In regular school, I learned about the perfect Constitution, America’s justified intervention in the Middle East, and our necessary democratization of areas south of the border. I pledge my allegiance to a country that was part of the UN which did nothing in Rwanda. I donated strangler quarters for tzedaka, naively pledged my allegiance, and saw the Palestinians as the wrong “Other.” We hated those “damn Germans” seeing them for their Nazi past. Still, the Israeli mother sheds clear tears, but so too does the Palestinian father. I do not blame my school for not teaching the tragedies in Cambodia or Rwanda, nor do I blame my Israeli teachers for teaching me biased politics. The parents of murdered children ask themselves what do I do? I ask myself should we seek revenge, forgive, or forget.

To provide some context, Jo Berry just shook the hand of the man that killed her father. The man that killed her father. I understand respect for soldiers of the opposite side; the soldiers are just pawns in the game of geopolitical rivalries, but the Brighton bombing was no act of war. The Brighton bombing was an act of terror by Irish radicals against Britain. Patrick Magee, the man that organized the bombing at the Grand Hotel, got out of jail after only 14 years––a fraction of his recommended sentence. Jo Berry, rather counter intuitively, wanted to meet Patrick Magee following his early release from prison.  She wanted to understand her father’s murderer. She wanted to forgive. She wanted to develop a relationship with the thief who stole her father. Personally, I can clearly understand someone willing to forgive an enemy soldier during war. But the attack on the Hotel was not during a war. The attack was on a public place. I will never forgive someone for attacking civilians. We should not have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Acts of war should be limited to the military, because the military’s purpose is to defend the country. Attacking civilian areas is like bringing guns to a knife fight. Certain tactics should just not be used during war.

Fire in the sky, but it isn’t from fireworks. The rockets blare overhead, but this isn’t the national anthem. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the Holy Land is pure melancholy. The land is so small, but the conflict is so great. For an area the size of New Jersey, Israel receives quite its fair share of attention. I watched the movie and looked at the wall. A sibling disappears. She stayed outside to play with her friends just a little longer.  The Parents Circle-Families Forum connects Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost members to the conflict.  Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan are two fathers who lost daughters to the war. A stray rubber bullet. Just a small cartridge. A dent in a car is a dent in a family.

We meet Robi. Robi’s son, David, was a student at Tel Aviv University. He was a peace activist finishing up his Master’s in the Philosophy of Education.  In Israel, the population cannot support a volunteer army. So, all people over 18 have to serve and go through training. David got called up to serve in the reserves. A Palestinian sniper killed David. That sniper was on revenge high; he killed a ton of people. When Robi heard the news, she said one thing to the military group, “Do not get revenge.” When asked about going before court, Robi said that it doesn’t matter to her, the Palestinian man staying away would be the same thing as Robi being away from her son. A mother without a son is universal. From a letter Robi wrote, “Our lives as two nations are so intertwined, each of us will have to give up on our dreams for the sake of the future of the children who are our responsibility.”

To prevent problems, we must acknowledge our problems. Genocides happen when a person sees a flaw in himself/herself and puts that flaw into another group. Then, the person gets rid of the flawed population. It is not enough, therefore, to simply acknowledge our differences. Obviously, we are different. I am not Palestinian. I am not an Irish bomber. Still, Palestinian tears still flow clear.

I may not have the prettiest eyes, but I won’t fight someone who does.