To the editor,
Nearly every day for the past month, I have been having long back-and-forth text arguments with my dad. I don’t even know what the argument is about anymore. — I don’t even know if we both want peace. We just keep sharing articles and debunking the details.
In mid-October, I joined a phone bank encouraging left-leaning Americans to call their congressional representative and demand a ceasefire in Gaza. At the beginning of the event, we were given some background about the current situation, and I decided to share it with my dad to ask for his interpretation. Although we have diverged a bit politically since I went to college, we generally have good discussions, and I wanted his input as someone who had lived on a kibbutz for a few years as a young adult. He quickly dismissed all of my sources.
But I saw post after post of Palestinian suffering. I constantly shared the content I saw in my social media feed to help him to understand what kind of information I was surrounded by. He nitpicked details. I would spend a couple hours researching to give him a response, and he would immediately rip it apart, sending me on another wild goose chase for the argument that would prove “Travis is right.”
My dad is not the only one I have been arguing with. Most of my Jewish friends, the ones I am closest to, agree with my political views. But there are two people from my college days who are earnestly afraid of the destruction of Israel. Both know people who have been killed by Hamas (either years ago or in the past two weeks). Both want peace and are critical of the far-right Israeli government. But they balk at the claims that Israel has no right to exist, that it is a settler-colonial project, and that there is no nuance.
My younger sibling is much more knowledgeable about politics than I am. They have actually read several books on political theory, whereas I tend to get my information from Instagram infographics. But they have had a much more difficult time than I do talking to our dad. My sibling feels deeply embroiled in a narrative of “good” vs “evil,” and sees Zionism as evil. Although I am not even two full years older, I am much more capable of holding human complexity and having difficult conversations.
I do sometimes feel infuriated, but I am able to step back and disengage when I am not listening in good faith. I am also sorely aware that this ability to disengage is not afforded to Palestinians — including those in the diaspora who have to constantly worry about friends and family and argue that they are human, those in the West Bank currently being assaulted by settlers, and those in Gaza fleeing for their lives.
Personally, I have no allegiance to Israel. I am not even part of a congregation that provides material support to Israel. But Israel commits violence in my name, my tax dollars are sent to fund the violence, and my alma mater is invested in companies that build Israel’s war machine.
I stand for Palestinian self-determination and safety for all peoples.
Consider sharing your thoughts with our Rochester representative, Congressman Joe Morelle.
Covitz is a URMC staff member. This Letter to the Editor was published as part of the Campus Times’ Nov. 21, 2023 Special Edition on Israel-Palestine.