PCCA statement concerning the current conflict in the Middle East

The Hamas terrorist attacks of 7th October 2023, and the consequences of the ongoing reaction of Israel, have left us shocked, speechless, and consumed by horror, which made containing a space for hope extremely strenuous.

We do not intend to appear neutral, nor impartial with this statement. Neither do we aim to take sides. Polarised narratives are a defended and simplified understanding of the current conflict. They do not do justice to its international complexity and intertwined historical development. We are also not opinion-shapers, nor do we believe to `know it better´.

We speak from a position of doubt and struggle, working to maintain our ability to think, helped by our core values of passion, commitment, and courage. Rejecting a by-stander role, we are humbly aware of our human limitation in holding the paradoxical different justifications of this

conflict, since these justifications are based largely on mutually exclusive narratives of truth. We want to refrain, as much as possible, from placing perpetrator-ship and victimhood in sure corners.

There are nonetheless these absolute certainties for us, that we as PCCA salute collectively:

  • Israel’s right to exist as a state is non-negotiable, and, given the over 2000-year-old history of global antisemitism preceding its foundation, its safety is not the concern of the Jewish people alone, but an international responsibility.
  • The terrorist attacks of 7th October 2023 are a shameful tragedy for the whole of humanity and will stay with us as a devastating reminder of the inhuman side of being human. For the Israelis who were attacked, their families and friends, and the Jewish people elsewhere in the world, these events were an unprecedented re-traumatisation of the Holocaust.
  • The global flare-up of antisemitism since 7th October 2023 is unacceptable and non-excusable.
  • There must never again be denial, in whatever shape or form, of the persecution and suffering of the Jewish people in any part of the globe.
  • Every state, without exception, has the duty to defend its own people and act in their best interest. There are international laws in place that, likewise without exception, every state must adhere to while doing so.
  • Viewing the current events in the Middle East with a `snapshot understanding´ lacks consideration of historical and global complexity and leads to an overloading of projections onto two conflicting parties where more parties are involved.
  • Equating any terrorist group with the Arabic and/or Muslim population in general, even if that terrorist group openly declares its ideology in Islam, is Islamophobic. While Islamophobia in its origins, development, and proportion cannot be compared to antisemitism, we equally strongly condemn both.
  • Human life does not carry different value to us depending on ethnicity, religion, or nationality. To us, an Arabic life, as well as the end of it, is no less meaningful than a Jewish life, as well as the end of it.

The above statements might be alluring the obvious. But then we ask ourselves why we do not
hear them more often. There are other questions we continue to grapple with:

  • How can we listen empathically, respectfully, and committedly to the Other, staying with and bearing their agony, without denying or mitigating one’s own agony along the way?
    How is it possible to leave equal space for both, since not doing so prejudges worthiness?
  • How to work with opposing parties of a conflict, however many there might be, without making compassion a scarce resource to be competed for along the way?
  • How to acknowledge the narrative of the Other as being `valid´, although it contradicts and threatens my own narrative? And more importantly, how to stay humble and avoid hubris along the way?

We strive toward keeping these unanswered questions alive, as we continue to work and try to understand what a good enough third space ought to look like when dealing with current, alive, and unfolding conflict. It is the ability to make explicit and stand for a clear position, such as the
one portrayed in this statement, while at the same time acknowledging and working with the Other’s position that we aspire toward. This terribly hard work is what we are committed to continue to do with anyone who wants to partner up with us.

One Response

  1. Der dritte Raum ist wichtig, weil er Polarisierung verhindert und Triangulierung möglich macht. Im übrigen gilt für beide Parteien das Diktum von Adorno, dass im sozialen und politischen Verhalten nicht minus mal minus Plus ergibt (wie in der Mathematik), sondern: Dass alles noch schlimmer ist. Triangulierung, kritische Stimmen gibt es in Israel, aber auch unter Palästinensern (Kontakte mit dem verstorbenen Dan BarOn). Was kann man tun, um diese Kontakte (Bündnisse) zu aktivieren?

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