Image: K. Rijken
Let’s talk, that’s better than endless confrontation, says columnist Hanneke Gelderblom. The OJCM member was with the king on Monday to discuss dialogue with the other. ‘Praying for peace and commemoration is nice but it is not enough’.
How are you doing? It is a question that reaches me from all sides, via email and telephone calls. Are you still asleep? My answer is ‘yes’, that is to say, my body sleeps well, but my mind continues to race during the night. My motto is still at this moment: Despair, anger and revenge do not lead to peace.
And I read and hear messages from well-known and friendly Jews here in the Netherlands, who are struggling with the expressions of unadulterated anti-Semitism that is emerging again, as if that germ of anti-Semitism is dormant, but has never really gone away. Where exactly has the promise ‘never again’ gone?
In the media it seems as if the murders and terrible massacres of October 7 against the residents of kibbutzim in southern Israel and the hundreds of young people at that dance festival have been forgotten. Some even dare to claim that what the Hamas murderers committed there did not really happen but was Israeli propaganda.
Every TV broadcast we see the ruins in Gaza, where the Israeli army is busy destroying the Hamas tunnels and places from which rockets are still being fired towards Israel every day. And yes, I also feel intense compassion for the residents of Gaza, where there are no bomb shelters for ordinary residents and who have lived and suffered under this Hamas regime of terror for fifteen years.
Have we really forgotten the occasional desperation about the sky-high unemployment figures in Gaza and the stories of Palestinian mothers with young sons for whom there are only two jobs: digging tunnels or helping to build rockets? Have we forgotten that protesting against this Hamas regime is completely impossible?
Waving Palestinian flags on the street and shouting anti-Semitic texts apparently gives a lot of satisfaction. From the Jordan to the see Palestine, shall be free. But does that promote peace?
A few months ago, the Dutch court ruled that this slogan or should I say rallying cry is not prohibited in the context of freedom of expression. Anyone who thinks now knows that for the vast majority who shout it, this is understood as: Israel must be wiped off the map. But no one knows whether our judges will make a similar ruling after October 7.
Within the consultative body of Jews, Christians and Muslims (OJCM), we have intensive contact and hold each other tightly. Our OJCM statement of October 9, two days after the pogrom took place, was received with approval by many. But an attempt by a friendly peace activist to organize a conversation between a Palestinian lady and me was canceled by that lady. It is unclear whether she dares or is not allowed.
And unfortunately I have to conclude that the number of people who still want to talk is decreasing alarmingly quickly.
My Muslim friends explained to me which verses in the Koran state that God/Allah assigns this land to the Jews. But what attempts or expressions are visible that countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are really thinking or talking about the only solution to this conflict that has now lasted more than seventy years? A two-state solution as discussed and developed in the Oslo Accords was ultimately not fulfilled by Arafat.
My heartfelt cry
Praying for peace and commemoration is nice but it is not enough. Do we realize that there exists an Iran where Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seeks to wipe out everything that does not conform to his violent and imperialist views, solely in accordance with his tyrannical interpretation of the Quran?
This means that no Jews and subsequently no Christians are allowed to live on that piece of earth in the Middle East. Do we realize that this tyrant is only after power and is not, or never was, interested in the fate of the Palestinians?
And therefore my cry from the heart: Where are the Palestinians who, together with Jewish peace activists, dare to make a plea for a Palestine next to and in peace with Israel? Stop demonstrating! Let’s talk!