How does one begin to understand and respond to the most recent escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza? And where does one go for accurate and up-to-date news that does not paint the conflict with large brush strokes that the situation simply does not allow?
I cannot hope to answer these questions here but I do hope to provide a starting point for people who, like me, need it.
For those who need a basic primer of the conflict, many news centers like the BBC, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the New York Times provide answers and timelines to basic questions like ‘How did this start?’, ‘What do both sides want?’, and “What does this mean for the Middle East peace process?’
For those who do not wish to wade through reading material that can at times be rather complicated, the New York Times has posted a 10min video on why this conflict, which has existed for many years, has increased in the past few days.
Similarly, Al Jazeera talks to government ministers, military leaders, and university professors on both sides of the conflict in a 25min video that attempts to understand the motives and consequences of the conflict.
It is clear that conflicts like this are sometimes difficult for many of us in the West to fully understand. We are often far removed from the deeply entrenched political and religious differences that lead to violence when the desire for peace is snuffed out by the need for identity and place.
But, despite our oft-inability to understand, we in the West must not become detached in a way that promotes apathy and more importantly prevents prayer and compassion. A good way to avoid such apathy and to bridge-the-gap between ideological strife and human brokenness is through pictures that capture the conflict ‘where the rubber meets the road’ so to speak.
So, if you do nothing else, then at least look through the images of the conflict at the BBC, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and Al Jazeera and lift up the victims and the leaders in prayer so that peace, not violent conflict, may prevail.