GRIEF is our theme this week, not because I want to depress you. On the contrary, millions of us are experiencing grief right now and it helps to talk about it. Yesterday, I shared thoughts on the death of a lifelong friend who was a regular here at OurValues.org.
If you’re not familiar with the generational grief surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the strong, immediate, emotional power of this grief is as clear as a common symbol throughout the Middle East: a key.
Palestinian families who fled family homes in 1948, 1967, and in other eras often treasure a key to the old family home. Sometimes, the key is displayed in a frame, on a mantle in a living room or even on a chain worn around a matriarch’s neck.
Israelis who fled homes during the Holocaust or were part of airlifts out of other conflicted countries sometimes saved keys as well. Of course millions perished in the Holocaust along with family keepsakes. But waves of “rescue” and “airlift” in recent decades have brought refugees to Israel, sometimes clutching a favorite photo, a treasured garment and sometimes a key.
The key is a memory of pain, loss and a hope of somehow recovering an ideal family home again. For Palestinians, the “right of return”’—the idea that people should be able to reconnect with homes that now are physically lost—is a major chasm to be crossed in building a Middle East peace.
Today—share with us your thoughts on grief and the Middle East. You may never have visited the region. You may not be Arab or Israeli, Jewish or Muslim or Arab Christian—but perhaps you also feel grief over the region that is considered holy to three of the world’s great faiths.
What grief do you experience about the Middle East?
And what can soothe?