Journalist Karabat: Living in Jerusalem taught me value of peace

Journalist and writer Ayşe Karabat says the six years she spent in Jerusalem have taught her a lot.

July 18, 2010, Sunday/ 11:57:00
Journalist and writer Ayşe Karabat, also a columnist for Sunday’s Zaman, has said the years she spent in Jerusalem as a journalist have taught her a lot, and in particular, how invaluable peace is.Karabat witnessed dozens of clashes and a lot of pain during her six years in Jerusalem. “Living in Jerusalem taught me a lot. It taught me not only the value of being able to be open to other cultures, but also the value of peace and looking at other people through the window of humanity,” she says. Stating that every assault in the region silences the voice of peace, she states that the May 31 attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has been an incident which can never be forgotten by the Palestinians, who are desperately waiting for days of peace.

Karabat, who also wrote a book titled “Kudüs’ün Gönüllü Sürgünleri” (Jerusalem’s Voluntary Exiles) on her experiences in Jerusalem, thinks that journalists have a crucial role in the peace process. She asks questions that reinforce her point in the foreword of the book’s second edition, to be published by Everest Publications. “Isn’t there any other method than violence? How can those who resort to violence ignore that the ones who are subjected to violence do not surrender, but become more resentful? Why is it so difficult to understand that every attack silences the voices of pro-peace in both societies [the Palestinians and the Israelis]?” she asks.

According to Karabat, Turkey does not have the luxury of ignoring the Palestinian issue because of Turkey’s position in the world. Stating that Turkey has done a lot on this issue, she says there is still much to do. “There is one big deficiency, which is the fact that the issue’s emotional dimensions have been ignored. We are not asking these kinds of questions. How do the Palestinian refugees feel? What does the notion of being hopeless force people to do? How about Israeli society as a whole? What do they feel?” Karabat says. Stating that the only way to break the cycle of violence is to understand the emotional world of the people, she says she wrote her book to express feelings such as love, ambition, hatred and the devotion to peace she witnessed in Jerusalem.

 Noting that living in Jerusalem was important for her “own journey,” she says she understood the notion of “journalism for peace” during that period. According to her, the war between Palestine and Israel is also a big propaganda war. It falls on the shoulders of journalists to be able to side with the victimized party against injustice while still listening to all parties, and without falling into the trap of the propaganda war. She says the media have an important role to play in “listening to the other side.”

A threshold passed by Mavi Marmara

The conflict between Israel and Palestine dates back to 1948.  Hundreds of incidents have taken place since then, and they all incited pain and hatred. The attack on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, in which nine Turkish people were killed, stands as a turning point for peace. According to Karabat, this attack eliminated Turkey’s previous advantages as a mediator. Noting that Turkey’s mediation is now almost impossible, she says this situation worries her in terms of world peace. “The Israeli state saw that nothing happens when it sheds the blood of Palestinians. It also learnt that it did not lead to an outcry when it shed the blood of other Arabs, either. And unfortunately, the outrage that it faced when it shed Turkish blood did not force it to take a step back. I think, having seen that Israel still does not hesitate to shed blood, the Palestinians felt more hapless. I don’t think they will forget this,” she says.

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