This blog on the current situation in the Middle East has been contributed by Mia Tamarin who has just completed an internship with the Abraham Path Initiative and the UK Friends, aimed at extending support for the path in the UK and co-ordinating the UK Friends’ activity. Mia was born and raised in Tel Aviv. She holds a degree in Peace studies & International Relations and a Masters in International Law. She is currently living and working in the UK.
The fragility of the current situation in the Middle East is exceptional in many ways. Large and ongoing processes that were not always present before – revolution and destruction alongside some state-building – are having an impact on the region as a whole.
However, to those living there everyday life cannot be ‘exceptional’. Especially now when the so-called Middle East ‘situation’ has lasted so long: it is not just out-of-the-ordinary to be engaged with political life – living within some sort of conflict, resistance, or struggle is, in this region, ordinary. This is not to normalise the harsh realities that are daily life for people. It is not ‘normal’ by any stretch of the imagination to exist in survival mode every day. No-one, no matter where from, should have to accept this as the ultimate reality of life.
Nonetheless, it is important that the rest of the world, and in particular those countries who play a big role in the region and are passionate to reach solutions, do not alienate the everyday reality for many. Life in the Middle East goes on: surviving crisis is part of the ordinary day’s work – and often the life-long project of people. There is no ‘putting things on hold’ when a particular conflict kicks off; the conflict becomes the reason to keep going. Life itself is the only stream of hope for many; who hold on to a vision that one day the struggle will end and another kind of living prevail. And we must also appreciate that there is no a-political for those who live there; all life is political in this part of the world. Even staying silent, for those who turn from expressing political views, is taking a strong political stance.
That life itself is hope allows those of us who wish to engage in the region – without engaging in its politics – potentially to have a more meaningful impact. It is precisely through locally-focused and sustainable developments such as the Abraham Path represents, that the region slowly transitions towards peace in its cultural and structural sense.
Our partners in Palestine have continued their work in developing the path and engaging with the local communities throughout the year. To do otherwise would mean giving in to violence. For us living in the region, this is what life is about. There will never be a ‘good time’ to go out to walk. And while our reality may never attain the standards or stability that outsiders deem normal, we can work together towards progressive change.