Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Common Humanity

Recently I composed a response to a friend on an article written by a Jew sympathetic to the Palestinian plight and indignities Palestinians experience every day just as devastating for Palestinian parents who lose children, too, as it is for the parents who now mourn the deaths of the three murdered Jewish teenagers.  The one thing we do know is this event will mean more war and more will die.   

My friend wanted to know what I thought of the article and so I print my opinion entitled "Common Humanity" below.

After my opinion I paste an article
"These murders reawaken Israel's deepest fears" by Anshel Pfeffer of the "Guardian" which I thought summarized the Jewish plight, conundrum and despair concerning the saga of bitter conflict and never ending hostilities between Palestinians and Jews.

Common Humanity

What can be said that has not been said before?  If the world were like we war would not be an issue but much of the world is not like we are.  I am truly glad I am not in a position of power and that I do not have to make the profoundly awful decisions sending the young out to kill and/or be killed. 

It is no secret to those who know me that Hitler's Holocaust of the Jews of Europe shaped my politics and it is no secret that honesty must dictate the admittance of my love for Israel as a Jewish state.  These are my, actually our
(my friend is Jewish), people who for 2000 years have suffered the onslaughts of a hell that cannot be described.  I cannot abandon my essence. 

Having said that that does not mean I am impervious to suffering and injustice anywhere it exists and that is no less so for the Palestinian people irrespective of the constant monologue of rationales from both sides for war.  My heart aches for all those who grieve because I know what the loss of those whom I love is.

It means, too, that I support a two state solution, and an end to the settlements but just because I do it surely does not mean those settlements will end any time soon.  In the mix are my thought and deep conviction that I loathe religious fundamentalism wherever it exists.  Fundamentalists are uncompromising, cruel, bestial and extreme and that pertains to Jewish ultra-Orthodox fundamentalism as much as it does to Islamic fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism as well. 

In truth all fundamentalists would want me and those like me stoned to death.  Fundamentalists deny science, believe in the truth of myths and made up stories as divine, they eschew compromise, and, in the end, they negate the human decency that civilization has honed over centuries of uncivilized barbarity and brutality. Fundamentalists crush man's thirst for  knowledge through the questioning of everything and the advancement that new knowledge brings.

There are moderates everywhere and I surely hope they prevail.  It is, therefore, because of many realities that I support the Jewish state as a Jewish state but recognize the rights of Palestinians to live free and free from fear in their own state. 

In the final analysis, I abhor man's inhumanity to man wherever it exists because in reality it denies the common humanity of us all.

These murders reawaken Israel's deepest fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, The Guardian

For its citizens, the foundation of the Jewish state was meant to ensure their children would never again be taken away

Funeral for Eyal Yifrach
'To Israelis, this wasn't just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.' Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA
In a small, close-knit society where family is everything, people are constantly glued to their mobile phones and trauma is an ever-present memory, the prospect of a child being kidnapped by Palestinians is an unspoken terror. And yes, a child in this context could also mean a 20-year-old soldier shouldering his rifle.

For Israelis, the nightmare of your son's phone ringing, unanswered, wipes away all the self-confidence that citizens of the Jewish state have built for themselves. That fear burrows into a national psyche that defines what Israel is about for its Jewish majority – a country that was founded and its entire military force built up so that no Jewish child should ever be captured and spirited away again. No other political arguments or realities apply. As far as they are concerned, that is Israel's core purpose.

That it is a technological superpower with one of the strongest militaries in the world doesn't matter. And neither do the rights and wrongs of its conflict with the Palestinians, the vast imbalance between a sovereign state and an occupied population suffering multiple injustices and humiliations. For the 18 and a half days between the abduction of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and the discovery of their bodies north of Hebron, nearly every Israeli parent set politics aside and put him or herself in the place of those three mothers and three fathers.

Nearly every Israeli child and teenager imagined being in that car racing away through the night. Somewhere in their minds was the thought that this was just one more chapter in the long history of Jewish victimhood and the Palestinians are just the latest embodiment of the Jews' victimisers, as absurd as that may sound to an outsider.

Love or hate Israel, that is its core. You can't begin to grasp its society without understanding this. Israelis were deeply insulted by foreign media organisations which seemed to be downplaying the kidnapping, or, by describing the teenagers as "three settlers", to be putting them into a political context. To Israelis, this wasn't just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.

Israelis are no strangers to the death and sacrifice of young people. But in many ways, the not knowing, the vulnerability of being at the mercy of anonymous captors, is worse than having to lay a soldier to rest. The Israel Defence Force has a standing order, the Hannibal procedure, that in case of a soldier being abducted, the fleeing vehicle must be shot at to prevent its escape, even if that endangers the captured soldier's life. Israelis can deal with a grave, but not with being at the mercy of those they see as cruel terrorists. That is why the capture and subsequent disappearance of airforce navigator Ron Arad in Lebanon, a mystery now in its 28th year, remains such a deep-seated trauma.

For British and American viewers, Homeland is an exciting television series about the war on terror, an upgraded and updated version of 24. In Israel, the original version – Hatufim – touched a deep nerve within its target audience, the yearning for the return of soldiers missing in action. This is why, three years ago, Israelis overwhelmingly supported the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for one captured soldier held by Hamas – Gilad Shalit – despite many suspecting that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had signed off on the deal, was doing so for cynical political reasons. They weren't prepared to have another Ron Arad disappear. While Shalit had been taken prisoner from within his tank, the slogan of the campaign pressuring the government to obtain his release described him as "the child of all of us".

The national outpouring of grief now unifying Israel, which may provide the platform for a new military offensive against the Gaza Strip, does not, however, necessarily mean a further shift among Israelis towards the nationalist right. Even during the first days following the abduction, questions were raised asking what the hell the three were doing hitchhiking at night in the West Bank? These queries were subsumed in the collective feeling of support for the parents. But in the minds of many Israelis, they continue to linger.

Polling has shown a gradual decrease in the support of the Israeli public for the settlers. For now, the national mourning for the three teenagers is heartfelt and real. But as time passes, more Israelis will ask why their government is doing nothing to try to end a situation where Israeli teenagers are at constant risk of disappearing. And they won't be blaming only the Palestinians.

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