Listen and learn

Jason Alexander:

Well, I am fascinated by the amount of hate mail regarding my posts about our recent Middle East trip.  In most of them from the Arab perspective, there is hatred because our organization met with, among many other people, Tzipi Livni, who has been accused of murderous war crimes in some places. From the Jewish side, there seems to be accusations that I am too 'pro Arab'. The tweets have accused me of stupidity, Zionist ideology, naivety, rascism, bad acting, being a Zionist dog, being a Palestinian stooge and of being short, fat, bald and a has-been.This is all a result of me traveling with an organization that is entirely and almost solely comprised of Israelis and Palestinians who fervently believe in and are working toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict that would result in two independent, sovereign and hopefully fully thriving states that could co-exist as decent neighbors without threat of future hostilities.I am vilified for traveling, by invitation,  into Israeli and Palestinian towns in order to meet with a wide variety of political leaders, business leaders, artists, students and working people - in order to get a real understanding of the challenges, attitudes and ideas they are experiencing and wishing to share.At no time did we say to either side that they needed to do anything or make any specific compromise. We did not state anyone's 'take' on the situation. We did not and do not take sides. We do not advocate for one side against the other.All we did is listen and observe. As a result of listening and observing, we were left with the impression, that if everyone was being honest with us, there seemed to be quite a bit of concensus on the situation and the possible steps that could be taken to alleviate the conflict. We also noted that despite the previous observation, the two sides seem more estranged than in previous trips and that there was a terrible irony to that.Now granted, there are people on both sides who feel that by listening to an individual it immediately means we support them and their beliefs or that we justify everything they have ever done or stand accused of doing. I can only tell you that neither I, nor One Voice, take any kind of position like that. But everyone we met had insights into the conflict and only by getting the most thorough overview can anyone hope to have a complete understanding. And even now, I don't think anyone of our delegation is arrogant or foolish enough to thing we have a complete understanding. But that is not because we haven't tried or don't care. So, I guess I am a little confused and amazed at the amount of vitriol and hatred focused on me - from both sides - simply because we have expressed concern for the well being of peoples on both sides of a terrible conflict and because we have reflected what we saw and heard from those peoples. I'm not espousing my own opinions, I am reflecting those of the people we met. The one opinion I do espouse is that, from an objective point of view and despite the obstacles, I still saw the materials and the desire for a peaceful outcome as expressed by the vast majority.Now, how all that has engendered the kind of horrific responses being thrown my way I do have to say is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is my angry response to some who have felt they have the right to attack me without knowing me or anything about the mission I was on or the motives. Yes, I sometimes am dragged down to their level and respond in kind. I will cease doing that.If you have a point of view and would like to add to my understanding of the conflict, I am more than willing to listen. But I would ask that you offer it respectfully and with the understanding that my interest is not motivated by a desire to aide one side and destroy the other. I have met wonderful, brave, brilliant, powerful and inspiring people from both nations and my interest is to try to do whatever small part a citizen of the world can do to help achieve an acceptable outcome for them all. So, I am happy to listen and learn.But for those who only wish to vomit hatred and accusations, know that I will not engage with you further. And that either way I wish you all peace and a better tomorrow. Jason