Ever since I read this Deborah Solomon interview with Ari Folman in the New York Times magazine, I've been thinking about something Folman says in the piece. Folman, who made the film "Walz with Bashir," about the 1982 Israeli-Lebanaon War, is speaking of his feelings about war and the problems in the Middle East and as the interview ends he says, "Talk, don't shoot. Talk."
I opened my January 12 edition of Newsweek to see a picture of a family burying their four-year-old daughter, a victim of the most recent bout of violence in Gaza. I can't think of this war without seeing that child in my mind. This past week, with its news that the Israelis bombed United Nations trucks as the UN delivered food and medical supplies into Gaza has made me long for a voice in the Middle East who can get folks to the table to talk.
The situation in Gaza is just the most recent event in a long series of events whereby Israel, the Palestinians, and the surrounding nations choose violence over conversation. I'm not saying that previous conversations have yielded a peaceful agreement because – obviously – they have not. But the current situation, in which the Israelis try to subdue the urban maze of Hamas-controlled Gaza, is clearly not lending itself to a peaceful solution for now or for the long-term. Bombing UN trucks and taking out other UN-controlled buildings because they may harbor Hamas terrorists is just not okay.
Let's stipulate right no that no one has clean hands in the Middle East. Some have dirtier hands then others. But I keep seeing images from Gaza that show miserable desperate people. And I know, I know, that putting 4 year olds into graves will not solve any problem in this world. It will not make things better. It will not provide security for anyone.
Surely the Israelis and the Palestinians understand that they must find some compromise lest they destroy themselves while trying to ruin one another. The path to a peaceful solution will not be paved with bullets and rocket fire. And it won't be easy. But it might be simple: Talk, don't shoot. Talk.