I recently wrote an essay for “The 49th Shelf” about what happens when we think in terms of “us versus them,” a subject close to my heart, since it’s the theme of my recent novel, OUR DAILY BREAD.
Here’s the beginning of it:
At a dinner party recently, someone brought up the topic of Israel and Palestine. Within moments, an educated and well-traveled individual I’ll call Joe stated Israel is a much-maligned island of moral purity in a sea of barbaric, immoral hatred. Israel, he said, has committed no atrocities, done nothing illegal or unethical, whereas the enemies of Israel have slaughtered children in untold numbers and desire only to drive Jews into the sea.
“And what,” I asked, “would Israelis like to do to Palestinians?”
“They have to go,” Joe said, eyebrows bristling in my direction.
I asked if it wasn’t possible both sides had more in common than not. After all, they are descendants of Abraham, they believe in the One God, they consider Jerusalem a holy city, and they would perhaps even like to live in peace, to tend their olive trees, to laugh with their children.
“No,” Joe insisted, “they are not like us. It’s a fallacy that if people get to know each other they like each other better. Often they like each other less.”
“Familiarity breeds ferklempt?” I asked.
If you’d like to read the rest, you can do so by clicking here. Thanks very much.