The Good Life: Peace for all
As part of one module for my course, final year students take over our student publication, the Limerick Voice. This week, they asked for more content on the situation in Israel and Palestine. I knew there was a demonstration taking place in the city later that week, which my lecturer said would be an ideal place for video content. With nerves, I went.
The conflict, which has been going on long before it hit our screens on Saturday took centre stage when Hamas, a Palestinian militant group deemed a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, launched an attack on Israel. I was over in Brussels when the attack occurred, where Berlaymont, along with other landmark buildings across Europe, donned the Israeli flag in support of the people who had been killed and taken hostage.
I, in no way, condone these actions nor do I support the ensuing killings that took place in Palestine, however I don’t think displaying the Israeli flag represents the feeling of all European citizens. I support innocent people on both sides, planting myself firmly in the middle.
I always try to take a walk in other people’s shoes, to see things from their point of view, and to be honest I wouldn’t like to be in either pair right now. I saw an anonymous tweet, which read: ‘We stand with the Palestinian people in their endeavours to be free from occupation, but in no way stand with Hamas. We stand with the people of Israel, but in no way do we support their government.’ I agreed with the tweet.
When watching the news, reading, listening and keeping an eye on social media, I don’t know what to believe and I say that as a student of journalism. A Palestinian man spoke at the demonstration, highlighting the media’s role in hiding what his people are going through. He was outraged. Some attending the protest came and asked my opinion on what was happening and, although I didn’t give one because I was there representing the Limerick Voice, I stand with civilians on both sides; the innocent people who have been caught up in years of history and politics.
As I was talking to people, asking why they were attending the demonstration, I heard these thoughts voiced in many different ways. The last man I spoke to before heading home summed it up perfectly.
“I don’t have a big answer prepared for you,” he said simply.
He was reluctant to speak initially, so I put away the camera and had a chat with him.
I asked him the question, which I had been asking people all evening, “why are you here?”
“Peace for all,” he responded.
I respected his answer. Peace is so hard come by. It was a plain answer; three words loaded with meaning. This man had come out in his wheelchair, wrapped up in several coats, battling against the October evening chill, to demonstrate for peace. I thought the man inspirational, out of all the history and politics I had heard that evening, I admired his answer the most.
I gathered my gear and headed towards my car, thinking of who to believe, what to believe and the amount of editing I would have to do to put the several clips on my camera roll into a watchable video report. Covering the demonstration left an uneasy feeling inside me, I am aware that there are two sides to this conflict, and I stand with peace, I don’t believe killing of innocent civilians is a way of achieving this on either side.
After staying up until 4am editing, I finally produced a piece and sent it to the editors of the project; also two fourth year students. The editors are amazing and honestly have become mentors to us all. The piece was published with mixed reaction.
The entire event woke me up even more to the realities of the world, to journalism and exposed me to different opinions and views, which I take interest in hearing and reading. The reactions to my being there in the first place and to the finished report taught me a lot and, of course, I am still learning.
Sometimes I yearn for the safety of a lecture hall, but instead we are out there, engaging with the public and getting reactions on a conflict where nobody knows what the future holds.
In saying, this I am grateful, some don’t have peace at all in this world.
As many of you may have seen, Joe Drennan a journalism student in UL was killed in a road traffic collision on Friday night. Joe was in my class, one of the mentors I spoke of earlier in this piece. It’s hard to believe that last week, he was checking audio levels for me and asking if I could subtitle my video. I had texted him in a panic about it and as always, his help came without hesitation. This was the kind of person Joe was; a beautiful soul taken too soon.
May he rest in peace.
* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a fourth year journalism student in University of Limerick