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The carnage we are currently witnessing in the Middle East feels like a re-run of some horrific mini-series that first aired in the years after the Second World War. There are many reasons to suggest that this outbreak of violence represents a new turn in the decades-long conflict, but only time will tell.

Any foreigner who has attempted to engage seriously with the region in the last 25 years will not have failed to witness a bad situation getting increasingly worse. Just when we thought we had reached rock bottom, a new outrage takes it to a new low. There is a temptation, I think, often fuelled by a nascent white saviour complex, to believe that the something that must be done can only be done by us. Even in the region, voices can be heard that call on the international community to rescue the inhabitants from the mess, and themselves.

In the vacuum created by the lack of a credible peace process, the rush to fill it with more words is difficult to resist, but resist we must. Too many words have already been uttered about this part of the world, in the - mistaken - belief that yet another statement or official pronouncement, or resolution passed by a large majority will be the straw that finally breaks this camel's back. Sadly, rather than build the path to peace, it looks like more words simply fuel the fires of division.

In the midst of this horror, I have looked for things to read or watch that

provide more light than heat and recommend two:

  • The Weight podcast comes out of a United Methodist Church in Mississippi and has consistently produced quality episodes on a range of topics. The episode released on 26 October 2023 deals with the conflict in the Middle East and features Graham Pitts and it is well worth a listen in my view. In a cogent and accessible way, the episode offers some really helpful insights into the wider context and history of the region.

  • Understand: Israel and the Palestinians is a BBC podcast series hosted by Katya Adler who was the resident correspondent in Israel/Palestine for a number of the years. Again, it is an attempt to place the current situation in some sort of context in order to aid a better understanding. Well worth a listen!

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