Peace in the Middle East(?)

Abbot Nikodemus Schnabel, a Benedictine monk living in the Holy Land, tells us about his experience living in the midst of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and about his hope for peace. An interview from the Cracks in Postmodernity podcast.
Stephen Adubato

The internet discourse surrounding the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the last few months has left me confused and disillusioned by the extreme polarization. Surely, I have plenty of my own opinions about what I think is happening in the Middle East. But following Father Giussani's exhortation to "love the truth more than myself," which is to say, to be more interested in reality than my ideas or opinions, I decided to try to find someone living in the midst of the situation to help me and the followers of my platform to better understand what is actually happening on the ground. More importantly, I wanted to understand what this experience has been like for people living in the midst of it all.

Thanks to my friend Simonetta who connected me with Marinella, a Memor Domini living in Jerusalem, I was able to get in contact with Abbot Nikodemus Schnabel, the abbot of two Benedictine monasteries in the Holy Land. Abbot Nikodemus attempted to offer a balanced explanation of what's been happening, and shared with me his desire to cut through the polemics and live this crisis on a human level — which for him means to mourn the deeply painful experience of violence and death with his friends, among whom are Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Living in this way, said Abbot Nikodemus, is extremely lonely, as most people rather skip to the level of political discourse before engaging with their hearts. Yet he trusts that he, and others who share his desire to mourn but also to foster peace and reconciliation, will be a sign of hope in a gloomy sea of darkness and evil.

The fact that Abbot Nikodemus does not give a definitive political assessment of the conflict is not to say that engagement with political questions doesn't matter. But rather that we are more free to engage such questions when starting from a more human position — one that begins with the primacy of the heart.

Here you can listen to my interview with Abbot Nikodemus.

The podcast and blog I curate, called the Cracks in Postmodernity, attempts to engage the intersection of philosophy, pop culture, religion, and politics in a manner that gives space to the most pressing questions and desires that we as humans share. The platform reaches an audience whose political, religious, and cultural commitments vary widely. Thus why it was important for me to offer content that transcends conventional polemics, and rather that provokes a more nuanced engagement with the crisis at hand.

Listen to the interview on Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. And read excerpts from the interview here.