Call me an optimist, but I believe there must be more out there than violence and left-wing, right-wing, pro, anti, propaganda, name-calling, etcetera. There must be people working towards positive initiatives in a land where the word peace usually brings forth a smirk, a shake of the head, or a very long argument.

Welcome to Choosingtosee, a blog that will report on my video project I am currently embarking on here in Israel on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and the road to peace. Do to the overly saturated one-sided and violent-striken news reports we hear in the West and around the world, I have traveled here to search for more than finger-pointing and “right and wrong”. To do so, I am conducting interviews with organizations that are working towards peace through cross cultural understanding, dialogue creation, community building, and other positive initiatives.

I believe that it is difficult to have opinions until we know the people whom we are speaking about and forming opinions for or against. Especially with such a heated and biased-driven conflict as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we find it easy to hear a news report and think we so firmly know our beliefs and exactly what is happening here in this small sliver of land bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

I encourage everyone to take time to learn rather than judge, to listen rather than accuse, and to ask for peoples’ stories, on all sides, before slandering.

I am not interested in who is right or wrong, rather, I will be blogging about personal experiences of these individuals, I will be writing about their efforts to create relationships between Arabs and Jews, I will be searching for that truth: the truth that says there must be hope if there are people who are doing good things. And these people must be heard.

I name this Choosingtosee – because I do believe it is a choice we consciously make. We can hear so much, read so much, but unless we actively and continuously choose to see past the pages and TV screens and learn past how we were raised and the political climate of our friends, we will remain in a world that is solely ours, blocked off from empathy and honesty.

Thank you for joining me. The end product will be a video production of these interviews, so stay tuned. I welcome all comments and feedback, so long as you are choosing to open your eyes past your current state and opinions.

J. L.