Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Allow me to begin by explaining the importance of this blog post, especially as today is the first night of Passover in the Jewish tradition. The event I am about to describe illustrates the nature of the past of this issue - with relations between the two groups always filled with tension - and it emphasizes exploiting differences between each other rather than celebrating them. In my opinion, the exploitation of Passover in 2002 for Hamas represents everything wrong with the mindset that one or both parties bring to the negotiating table. To those unfamiliar with the holiday of Passover, extended families gather in a celebration of great importance, in order to commemorate the freedom of the Israelites from Egypt thousands of years ago.
In 2002, a Palestinian terrorist detonated himself inside a hotel in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya in the midst of a 250-person Passover seder. Abdel-Basset Oudeh walked into the dining room of the hotel in the center of the city. The reasoning for this, while difficult to face, is clear - the terrorist took advantage of the holiday being a time to gather with family in order to kill as many Jews as possible. It was an attempt to erase the holiness of the holiday and delegitimize the Jewish culture and traditions in comparison to Palestinian Arabs. This sickens me, and it should sicken everyone who hears of it - it emphasizes the overall nature of intense hatred over any respect. 22 civilians were killed instantly in the explosion with another 8 dying over the following days; meanwhile, 150 were notably injured. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, willingly accepting the 29 life terms and 20 years in prison for making their ideals known to the world.
What's worse, Oudeh's death as a martyr was portrayed with great respect from Arabs, with posters portraying him with a Quran (Islam's holy book) in one hand, an assault rifle in the other, and a proud stance. The lettering on such posters echoed those of a quote in the Quran, which promised a better life in Paradise promised to Muslim believers who kill infidels in the name of Allah. So, essentially, the destruction of Jewish lives and culture was praised - obviously, the exact opposite of the direction necessary for the future. Instead of trying to show how much one party hates the other, we must change paths. Let's first focus on acceptance and legitimization of each party by the other, than talk about specific details of land. For the emotional hatred of knowing groups of people are looking to kill you for your faith, culture, and home can never be accepted on either side. Both sides need to celebrate, not hate, differences between them and understand that a human being is a human being, with the same level of connection to their faith.