My October 7 Asterisk; a Prayer for Peace

By admin
This is an article about

Lainey Feingold
PERSON

’s thoughts about the

Israel
GPE

-Gaza war.

Lainey
PERSON

is a

Jewish
NORP

progressive lawyer and author in

the United States
GPE

. She is sad about those kidnapped and murdered during the

Hamas
ORG

terrorist attack in

Israel
GPE

on

October 7
DATE

. And she is sad

about thousands
CARDINAL

of

Palestinians
NORP

killed in the war that followed. Usually

Lainey
PERSON

separates her work from other issues. That has been a challenge for

the past month
DATE

.

Lainey
PERSON

knows that disabled people are impacted by the events in

Israel
GPE

and

Gaza
GPE

. And

Lainey
PERSON

believe in peace even when peace seems impossible. The fate of the

Israeli
NORP

hostages and crisis in

Gaza
GPE

is in

Lainey
PERSON

’s mind and heart as she does her work. It is the background of everything she writes and says during this time.

Since the

Hamas
ORG

terror attack on

Israel
GPE

on

October 7, 2023
DATE

I have been reluctant to post on social media. How can I share a picture of my wonderful visit to

Google NYC
ORG

with my

90 year old
DATE

dad when

1,400
CARDINAL

people were brutally murdered and

200
CARDINAL

+ kidnapped on

the worst day
DATE

in

Jewish
NORP

history since the

Holocaust
EVENT

? Should I be letting people know about my final

2023
DATE

talks when innocent civilians in

Gaza
GPE

, including

thousands
CARDINAL

of children, have been killed by

Israeli
NORP

bombs?

I feel like everything I write needs an asterisk. This post is it.

I am

Jewish
NORP

. For my entire adult life I’ve identified as a progressive person, a person on the left of the

American
NORP

political spectrum. My

first
ORDINAL

anti-war protest was wearing an armband to school in

9th
ORDINAL

grade. I took my children, the youngest in a stroller, to their

first
ORDINAL

protest in

the early 1990
DATE

’s against the

U.S.
GPE

war in

Iraq
GPE

.

Like so many

Americans
NORP

, I donned a pink hat and protested

Donald Trump
PERSON

’s election. I’ve always believed that being

Jewish
NORP

contributed to my progressive ideals. If I were

Israeli
NORP

I would likely have been in the streets

this past summer
DATE

as

hundreds of thousands
CARDINAL

of

Israeli
NORP

’s protested the government’s anti-democratic actions.

Like many

Jewish
NORP

people in

the United States
GPE

I have family in

Israel
GPE

. The impact of

October 7
DATE

on this small country, and the small

Jewish
NORP

diaspora (

.2 percent
PERCENT

of the global population – not

2%
PERCENT

, but

two tenths
TIME

of

one per cent
MONEY

) cannot be overstated.

I am heartbroken for the families of the dead, the missing, the kidnapped, and for

Israeli
NORP

society that is shaken to its core by the

Hamas
ORG

terrorist attacks. I am dismayed by rising global antisemitism over

the past month
DATE

.

And like many

Jewish
NORP

people I know in

the United States
GPE

, I am heartbroken for innocent

Palestinians
NORP

living under unfathomable conditions, victims of war in numbers hard to conceive. Another society shaken to its core. Dismayed too watching

republicans
NORP

seize on the crisis to advance a conservative and racist

anti-Palestinian
NORP

and

anti-Muslim
NORP

agenda here in

the United States
GPE

.

These tragedies are at the front of my mind

every day
DATE

since

October 7th
DATE

when I awoke to news of the horrific attack in

Israel
GPE

, to news of senseless death at a musical festival and beyond. At the front of my mind as

Israeli
NORP

military strategy results in the deaths of innocents and destruction of the civic landscape.

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Compartmentalizing Failure

I have been self-employed for

27 years
DATE

, working from home long before remote work was a thing. The importance of being able to “bring my full self to work” never really resonated. As a disability rights lawyer, public speaker, and author active on social media, I never struggled over what or whether to share anything about myself unrelated to my work of making the digital world accessible to disabled people. I easily compartmentalized without much thought.

This feels different.

I realized that I had a “failure to compartmentalize” when

last week
DATE

I sent a work email to

two
CARDINAL

colleagues.

About ten minutes later
TIME

I realized that the people I had written to worked for a company that began as an

Israeli
NORP

start-up.

One
CARDINAL

email recipient was a co-founder, and many company employees were based there. How could I have sent that email without acknowledging the current situation?

I sent a follow-up, asking after the physical safety of their team, offering my hope for peace. I received a heartfelt response, with a “wish for a speedy resolution to this situation, and one that comes with lasting peace.”

It was that blurring of my compartmentalizing lines that prompted me to write this post.

My work, my dream for peace

My need for an asterisk to all social media posts, and even emails, also feels related to my work, both as a disability rights lawyer focused on digital accessibility and as a problem solver who believes in collaboration over conflict whenever possible.

Disability is writ large in the unfolding of events in

Israel
GPE

and

Gaza
GPE

.

Every hostage story is sad and compelling; the disabled teenager and her dad, killed by

Hamas
ORG

at the music festival,

one
CARDINAL

of so many. The trauma of the

October 7
DATE

terrorist attack and the physical and mental health impacts on survivors (primarily but not only

Jewish
NORP


Israelis
NORP

) create disability.

War is a disabling event, and

thousands
CARDINAL

of

Palestinians
NORP

have been disabled by

this past month
DATE

’s bombings. The trauma and lasting effects of this war, on

Palestinian
NORP

children and adults alike, cannot be overstated. Disabled people in

Gaza
GPE

– estimated to be

more than 15%
PERCENT

of the population before

Hamas
ORG



October 7th
DATE

attack, face added burdens in this war and the displacement it is causing.

I often say that as a characteristic of the human condition, disability is global and cross-cutting; impacting humanity across race, gender, gender identity, and nationhood. The

Israel
NORP

-Hamas war adds another dimension to the universality of disability.

In my work as the co-creator and practitioner of

Structured Negotiation
ORG

, I define myself as a peacemaker. In my Structured Negotiation trainings I open with a song in the background. It asks “What’s So Funny About Peace,

Love
WORK_OF_ART

, and Understanding?” My answer in the digital accessibility advocacy context is always the same — “nothing.”

In

2017
DATE

, after reading a book by mediators titled

Bringing Peace into the Room
WORK_OF_ART

, I wrote an article titled Stuck in the Middle with Everyone, in which I wrote that “Although I’ve never been a neutral “in the middle,” it struck me that lawyers practicing

Structured Negotiation
ORG

also “bring peace into the room.” . . . I realized that “bringing peace” and being a strong advocate are not mutually exclusive.”

I’m not suggesting that I have a roadmap for bringing peace to

the Middle East
LOC

. Peacemakers on the ground in

Israel
GPE

are struggling. But the current crisis reminds me that at heart I am a person who believes in peace. No matter the complexity of getting there, no matter the nuances that make

today
DATE

’s sloganeering ring hollow and often dangerous to me.

I am heartened by stories of

Arab
NORP



Israeli
NORP

heroes who saved

Jewish
NORP

lives on

October 7
DATE

, beautifully told in this

first
ORDINAL

person account of rescue. Heartened by isolated stories of small scale attempts at peace making in

Israel
GPE

even in this time of national crisis.

I want to hold the dream of peace, no matter how unattainable it feels right now. I want to hold on to

Helen Keller
PERSON

’s words that “nothing can be accomplished without hope and confidence,” even in these times when hope and confidence are under fire. Even when words like peace and hope sound naive.

My asterisk, my prayer

So during this next period of time, as I write my legal updates, give my talks, and share moments of joy on social media, please know that my words come with an asterisk. An asterisk saying that all I share right now is done with this prayer in my heart: