Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do You Think You'll Change My Mind?

      Gaza Demonstration, Harrisburg, PA - by S. E. Jihad Levine, Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved
The image above is from a demonstration I photographed a few years ago.  I can't remember exactly when it was, but I believe it was in response to the Israeli Operation Cast Lead offensive in Gaza.

I am really involved in justice for the Holy Land.

Mostly, I am a cyber activist.  I involve myself in activities like interfaith dialogue and social media awareness.

Why do I care so much?  Because I was raised Jewish, was converted to Christianity around the age of 12 by my mother after her divorce from my father, and am now a Muslim.  Until my reversion to Islaam, I, myself, was a Zionist.  I used to write poems about Israel.  The Holy Land is in my blood. 

I now believe the Holy Land belongs to all three faiths.  And I detest Zionism as it is manifested in current-day Israel.  I'm not a violent person and don't support terrorism against the Palestinian or Israeli people.  I just wish the two can find a way to make peace.

I commented on a Zionist's blog the other day, and to make a long story short, he said something that really got me to thinking.  He basically said (in my words) that I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to Israel or Palestine because I don't live there and don't know the daily experience of people there. 

Okay, granted, I don't live there, but I do intimately know numerous Palestinians living in the diaspora, and I have listened to their stories.  Palestinian people were the first Muslims I knew.  They brought me to Islaam.  All of them still have family there who DO live the daily experience.  I also read about five English language online Israeli sites, and am on listservs of numerous Zionist groups.  I also read Ma'an, a Palestinian news service.  I don't claim to be an expert, but I think I have an informed idea of what is going on there when it comes to the Occupation of the Palestinian people.  I read, reflect, and try to make up my own mind as a result of what I've learned.   

I could agree with what he said if I was totally clueless about the issue and was just commenting on people's blogs to pass time.  But I'm not clueless, and I have a right to advocate for the Holy Land.  And saying things like he said is another way of shutting people out and shutting them up. 

So, he basically said (my words) that he was weary of my constant negativity concerning Zionism and Israel.  He asked me if I REALLY thought I was going to change his mind with my constant "negativity."  (translation: speaking out against Zionism)

Well, probably not ... because he lives there and is married to an Israeli.  He's personally invested in Zionism.

But I was thinking about the concept of changing people's minds.  How do people change their mind about anything when they refuse to be receptive to "the other side?"

I remember something I learned in a 12-step group that basically goes "You can't write anything new on a closed mind."

Talking to Muslims and opening my mind lead me to the decision to re-vert to Islaam.  I listened to Muslims and seriously thought about the things they said to me.  So I know that minds can be changed. 

I realize there are two sides to every story.  But the truth of one side is not negativity, despite who narrates it. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, changing peoples' minds... it cannot be done, and perhaps there is no need to try. The need is to encourage people to develop compassion for those against whom their minds are closed. A third way must be crafted, a way that blends both sides into a wide middle.