Growing up I always supported Israel, believing in them, and believing that all Muslims were crazy. Then I spent time getting to understand Islam, and I spent time getting to know some Muslims, and I discovered that they were nice, kind, generous people.
Then Israel went into Gaza and I saw all the terrible pictures of the innocent children getting hurt, and that made me become angry and very critical of Israel and Jewish people. Even though I always kept telling myself that there is good and bad, and right and wrong on both sides; I only seemed to focus on the negative side of Israel. Which was wrong of me, and for that I apologise. I had stopped listening to the people of Israel. I just saw things as black and white, even though I know from my own life, things never are black or white.
In my defense, I did try to speak to Jewish people but I found them unwilling to chat, they'd just say what they wanted to say and that's it, I found them closed off and I believe that can be part of the problem; although to be fair and in their defense, I am sure they have most likely been criticized and attacked by so many people, they just put walls up to keep you out.
I did have one Israeli man who chatted with me and befriend me, but he had very strong opinions to which I found shocking, even a bit upsetting. His name was Moti and although he could be a pain, he was very knowledgeable and when he wasn't insulting me for taking an interest in Islam, he was a very nice person who I grew to like! I enjoyed our discussions, he really pushed and tested me on my own knowledge about things. In the end I had to block Moti, because I was going through a stressful time and I found him too hard to deal with; plus I was only listening to one side of the Israel/Palestine argument/discussion; which was very wrong of me! I have even recently found myself missing Moti and his comments. Even though his beliefs were strong and sometimes shocking to me, he was willing to be open and talk about things.
The main thing that has opened my eyes and ears is the terrible event with the kidnapping and murder of the three young Israeli Jewish boys. Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer were three beautiful young men/boys! Who had their whole lives ahead of them; what happened to them was shameful, disgusting and wrong!
When I first heard that they'd been kidnapped I didn't pay too much attention. I believed that Israel was this strong country with a huge invincible army, so I believed these boys will be found in no time. Then when I heard that the boys had been killed, my heart sank. I realised that Israel and the Jewish people were just as vulnerable as the rest of us.
I found myself wanting to send my condolences and offer my prayers for the boys, their family and friends, and the people of Israel; so I went to the groups of people I'd been listening to and I was completely shocked and saddened by what I was reading and seeing. All these people were saying such vile, nasty, horrible things; I then found myself defending the boys and Israel and Jewish people! I realised that these people who I'd been listening to, weren't kind, caring peaceful people, they were anti-peace, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. Then it hit me; I remembered Moti and his Pro-Israel strong views, maybe his views weren't as strong as I thought? The people I was listening to weren't just Pro-Palestine, they were the opposite end of Moti and their views were just as strong as Moti', but they weren't just Pro-Palestine, they were antisemitic and I felt ashamed of myself. I had been listening and repeating some of their hate. How could I say I wanted peace, when I was becoming a hypocrite.
When ever I saw a dead or hurt Palestinian, I would get upset thinking this is wrong, this is so cruel and sometimes, this is such a waste of a beautiful life; and when I saw the three Israeli boys, I felt the same feelings, thinking this is so very wrong and so sad. Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were human beings, they were their mothers babies, they were cherished and loved by people. Their deaths were just as sad and shocking as the Palestinians deaths; all life is precious!
From all the hate I was reading, I started seeing things from the point of view of Israeli's. How do you think it looks to them if you show no compassion for one of their losses? They think you are uncaring, brutal, non peaceful and full of hate. If you want Israeli Jewish people to listen to you, then you have to show them that you are kind, caring, generous, peace loving/wanting; and prove that you don't take pleasure in hurting other people, and you don't want to harm all of them!
Hate is a seed that we plant, in ourselves and others; it has the ability to grow and spread but only if it is being watered. We must treat hate like a weed and pull it out by the root, before it spreads through us like a cancer.
When it came to light that the three Israeli boys had been killed, what we should of done was come together and show compassion, respect and love. Do not make the mistake of thinking Israel and the Israeli people are all bad; there is right and wrong, good and bad on both sides, no one is completely innocent or completely guilty. For peace to come, there must be forgiveness, if you want peace, you have to see the good in others and the wrong in yourselves.
The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we are alive, don't let the hate consume you because it will kill you from the inside! In every shadow there is light. In every tear there is a smile; in every hurting heart, there is hope. In death, there is still life, for a person is only really dead if they are forgotten.
I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, and to Israel and all the Jewish people who mourn their loss. R.I.P Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer.