Yesterday I posted my reflection blog to a Presbyterian page on Facebook. I wanted to share it, but I knew how contentious the Israel-Palestine issues are among Presbyterian activists. Yet, I felt it was important to share. A few hours later, after several likes, I was asked “could I clarify how my trip was funded?” I responded that the University paid for my trip. There was an immediate concern that I might have been funded by a biased source (i.e., a Jewish source) and thus everything I had written and observed was to be suspect. I was bothered, but not surprised.
Then I was asked why in my post, I never used the words “Israeli occupation,” and how alarming that was. My response is the subject of this post. Here is what I said.
I spent four paragraphs talking about the West Bank. I may not have used the word that defines your narrative but I certainly spent a lot of time thinking and exploring those issues. My goal is not to convince any one of a particular narrative which I think you want me to take, but to insist that we view the issue with as wide of an angle lens as possible. In a camera metaphor we can’t just use a 300mm zoom, we need to pull out a 10-18mm wide angle to look at the bigger picture. And then switch to mid-range and zoom lenses (say the 28-105mm one I used) and occasionally shift to a macro one. When we limit ourselves to one focal point we miss a larger picture.
The more I think about this, I think the camera metaphor is a good one. When we look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we do so through our own eyes, but almost always have a lens through which provides focus to how we view the issue. In my reflection I said we had to take off the “pair of rose-colored vuarnets” and get a different perspective (and yes, I dated myself to the 1980s with that analogy). But let’s use the camera perspective a bit more. As an amateur photographer, I am always trying to frame a shot, and figure out how to get the best picture. This involves sorting out light and aperture (how big the sensor opening is), shutter speed (how long the sensor is open), film speed (how much digital noise to put up with in order to get a shot in less than optimal conditions), and what the focal point should be.