It was not long ago that many expressed quite a bit of envy of Israel for its aggressive and well-planned vaccination rollout, so that it is said to have achieved herd immunity—or close to it—against COVID-19.
In the past few days, however, Israel has been in the news for an entirely different, though not necessarily new, reason. Its decades-old conflict with Palestine has reared its head and given way to violence again. The death toll is mounting, structures are being flattened, and people’s lives are being upended yet again.
The depth and complexity of the situation makes it impossible to tell the story in a linear way, or ascribe blame and accountability to any single party.
What is certain is that in all this, it is the people—who have no say in the decisions made to bomb this or that target, or to refuse to talk peace or to violate provisions of existing agreements—who suffer the consequences of the violence. It is they who lose loved ones, suffer injuries, and see the continuity of their everyday life threatened yet again.
The presence of Filipino workers in that part of the world—about 31,000 by government estimates—makes it difficult for us to ignore the situation and confine ourselves to our domestic woes. These workers’ jobs and safety are at stake, and their families here must be assured that they will be protected as much as they could— even if there are no guarantees in a situation such as this.
Moreover, it is no longer possible to think of various parts of the world as separate in themselves. Whatever happens in one part is the result of the decisions made by people driven by the same, or similar, instincts for self-preservation, greed, fear, or desire for dominance. What is happening in the Middle East is a reminder that grave consequences can come from long-standing problems left to fester and from small, seemingly insignificant words or actions recklessly made.