Israeli blogs put human face on fighting

By Christopher Blake
February 5, 2009

Blogs from Israel offer a window into the worlds of people in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Although news reports from Israel show that anti-Palestinian sentiment has greatly increased during the conflict over the last several months, some Israeli blogs show that individuals are trying to remind each other that the Palestinians are still human beings.

In one blog, an Israeli mother tries to instill positive values in her child.

“There have been times that I felt were incredibly important, times when I had an opportunity to shape my son’s thoughts and wanted so badly to ensure that he understood. When he told me that his teacher explained that there are good Arabs and bad Arabs, I responded by reminding him that there are good people and bad people, and that it doesn’t matter where they’re from or if they’re somehow different from us,” Israeli mother Liza Rosenberg said in her recent blog “I tell him that in Gaza, there are little boys just like him, little girls, mommies and daddies, that they are good people, and that they are probably very scared right now.”

Within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, foreign journalists have been banned by Israelis from covering the recent warfare. In times of war, journalists play vital roles in communicating the message of the people to the world.

In a land where journalists have been silenced, cruelties can go unexposed, innocent lives continue to been taken in vain and a solution will never be found.

In blogs, Israelis and Palestinians have acted as their own personal journalists telling their stories and spreading their messages of fear yet hope through blogging.

Some Israelis feel Palestinians are not taking positive steps but bring their fate upon themselves. “I swear to you that if the citizens of Gaza were busy paving roads, building schools, opening factories and cultural institutions instead of dwelling in self pity, arms-smuggling and nurturing a hatred to your Israeli neighbors, your homes would not be in ruins right now,” Israeli soldier Yishai G. wrote in a letter to a family whose house his military unit searched. The letter appeared on a blog by an Israeli citizen named Yael K. from Tel Aviv.

“If your leaders were not corrupt and motivated by hatred, your home would not have been harmed. If someone would have stood up and shouted that there is no point in launching missiles on innocent civilians, I would not have to stand in your kitchen as a soldier,” Yishai wrote in a blog named

In his letter, Yishai explained to a Palestinian family that although he was ordered by his country to go through their personal belongings in search of explosives and tunnels him and the other soldiers did so in respectful fashion.

“I spent many days in your home. You and your family’s presence was felt in every corner. I saw your family portraits on the wall and I thought of my family. I saw your wife’s perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw your children’s toys and their English language schoolbooks. I saw your personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to the screen, just as I do,” Yishai said.

Although the letter may have never been received by the Palestinian family, it’s a symbol of future change.

The news media in the past chose what would be seen and heard by the people of world. Blogs are enabling two peoples who have been long in conflict to learn what people on the other side think and feel.

“In my opinion, we have a lot more in common than you might imagine. I am a civilian, not a soldier, and in my private life I have nothing to do with the military. However, I have an obligation to leave my home, put on a uniform and protect my family every time we are attacked. I have no desire to be in your home wearing a uniform again and I would be more than happy to sit with you as a guest on your beautiful balcony, drinking sweet tea seasoned with the sage growing in your garden,” Yishai said.

Christopher Blake

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