Tolerance 2

There is an off-handed, indifferent phrase to brush off issues that do not personally affect us. We say “I don’t have a dog in the fight”. This saying comes from the terrible arena of using fighting dogs for sport and entertainment. This may very well express the feelings many have regarding the Palestinian, Israeli conflict. Indeed, unless we have Jewish or Arab connections we may well be mere spectators and not really have an emotional opinion as to the outcome.

As a Christian (the third part of the equation) a walk through the streets of Jerusalem was an unsettling experience. I made the same walk in March of 1973, not too long after the Yom Kipper war which was fought in October of 1972. The mood at that time was somewhat relaxed. Peace had been declared and it was before missiles and the iron dome. This time in March of 2019, 46 years later, the nightly news on the hotel TV in our room, relayed the missile strikes on Tel Aviv coming from the Gaza strip. Out on the streets, the only smiling faces were the Christian tourists, a merry band of oblivious sight seers, fascinated with the shops crowded with Jewish olive wood carvings of Biblical scenes and Arab metal and fabric products. Most of the tourists did not have a dog in the fight.

This painting is an attempt to convey the atmosphere that illustrates tolerance. The man in the foreground of Arab descent looks away from the passing Jewish rabbi who looks down in order to avoid eye contact. If you don’t really like someone but have to interact with them you are tolerant and maybe somewhat accepting, at least on the surface. In the absence of tolerance is conflict.

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