Wednesday, July 02, 2014

2-Jul-14: Our side and theirs: an email to a well-meaning friend

A friend from the US, a deeply committed Christian, wrote us earlier today kindly saying that
you and all of Israel have been on our prayers with the recent escalation in tension and violence, due to the murder of those three young men and the retaliation which is following. It seems hopelessly dire, from a distance, and I'm sure you feel hopeless at times too, that any resolution to this conflict can be found when people continue to act in such a fashion.  
Here's the response we offered him:

Your prayers and good wishes are much appreciated. The society in which my family and I live, and whose values are on display constantly, is pained and angry but not threatened (as a society) by the dangers and hatefulness directed at us from the other side. Those values, and the lives illuminated by them, go on even as all of Israel is immersed in grief as it is today.

I see reports this morning, unconfirmed and sketchy at this hour but already circulating widely, of a "revenge" abduction and killing. I despair when I see those reports set up a kind of duality as if we and those on the other side were somehow two sides of one coin.

The reality is that while both sides have their share of psychopaths and haters as all societies do, theirs has adopted the values of psychopathy and hatred at all levels up to the highest. The realities of this speak for themselves even when they are ignored.

The values I just mentioned are fundamental drivers of the education delivered through their schools, summer camps and educational TV to their children, ensuring they get more and more firmly rooted. They are affirmed and celebrated by political and religious leaders from the very most senior level down to the smallest villages. Nowhere in the full spectrum of their communal life is there any public sign of a contrary view.

As a society (and perhaps not as individuals -  but there is no real way to know), they are heart-and-soul for the abductions, the killings and the glorification of the perpetrators. They demand the release of all the convicted killers among all the terrorist prisoners held behind Israeli bars, with not the slightest acknowledgement that those people executed hideous plans in full knowledge of the consequences. They reacted with joy and pride right across the spectrum when the abduction of the three Israeli boys became known. They Tweeted and Facebooked photographs of their own innocent children holding up three fingers.

Escalation and violence there may be, as you say. But it is the sort of escalation one sees when the criminals carry out a crime wave of larceny,  rape and murder and the police respond with all the reasonable means, violence included, that are sometimes needed to protect threatened communities.

This is neither retaliation nor the second side of a coin. It is what societies must do when challenged by unremitting evil.

It goes without saying that Keren Malki continues, along with every other part of Israeli society, to help those who request it and need it, with zero regard for the factors that sometimes divide us.

Our people are not necessarily better than those on the other side but our society's values most certainly are. This has huge consequences. Tremendous misunderstandings and error follow when they are belittled, ignored or (as I have seen in the past 24 hours) denied.

Hoping for much better days, and with good wishes.

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