Neutral – in whose favor? | Uri Avnery

But were they neutral? Are they? Can they be?

My answer is: No, they couldn’t.

Not because they were dishonest. Not because they consciously served one side. Certainly not. Perish the thought!

But for a much deeper reason. They were brought up on the narrative of one side. From childhood on, they have internalized the history and the terminology of one side (ours). They couldn’t even imagine that the other side has a different narrative, with a different terminology.

In this article, Uri Avnery is asking whether the American intermediaries involved in trying to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians in recent decades have been neutral. More than that, whether they can be.

Depending on one’s own attitudes towards this conflict, his answers will either seem offensive or obvious. That’s just another example of the broader principle he’s pointing to. We all have our own set of narratives which makes true objectivity almost impossible. Not only in relation to large-scale vexed issues like this, but in every corner of our lives.

Overcoming them is exceptionally difficult, even after we become conscious of their existence and wish to make the change. Only empathy, a willingness to listen to someone else’s narrative and try to see things through their eyes offers us any chance at all.


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