Sunday, January 18, 2009

Enough Already

There is a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza today, finally, and hopefully the violence from both sides will stop.
As I read about the crisis, it seems evident that the problems of the area are so horribly complex, that it would take the best humanity has to offer to come up with a Salomonic solution in order to achieve some semblance of lasting peace and quiet. Instead, we get hatred and carnage.
From my humble and limited point of view, I guess that this horrendous campaign by Israel was designed to send a message to Iran about the consequences it faces shall it keep hammering away at the destruction of Israel, whether it's via Hamas or any other means.
Unfortunately, Israel, by necessity a heavily militarized state, fights this war against a guerrilla terrorist group. Israel uses traditional warfare to attack or defend itself from an untraditional enemy. The battleground is a place teeming with civilians, and an appalling place at that. Too many civilians die. Israel looks terrible in the eyes of the world. Not that it seems to care at this point.
What appalls me, besides the reports of dismembered children and 1200 deaths, is, as always, the monolithic, knee-jerk reaction of most Jews living outside of Israel.
I am all for the absolute destruction and eradication of Hamas. But I can't turn a blind eye and a cold heart to the collateral suffering of civilians caught in the middle.
I totally love and support Israel, but that doesn't mean that I have to applaud everything it does. It doesn't mean that my love and admiration and support of it make me lose all sense of compassion or proportion, or my moral compass.
It also doesn't mean that having a dissenting opinion makes me a self-hating Jew or an anti-Zionist. It makes me a Jew and a Zionist with a conscience. Which is what all Jews should be.
You may adore your spouse, or your parents, or your children, but you don't cheer them on no matter what they do because of unquestioning loyalty. You can disagree with the people you love and that doesn't mean that you love them any less. Disagreement is not disloyalty, and people who confuse the two are tyrants.
It is reported that most Israelis supported this campaign. I can understand: they live under a siege mentality and they live in fear and frustration. It's also easy to do so when the casualties and the damage on their side are not dramatic. The last invasion of Lebanon was bitterly opposed by Israeli public opinion once it was clear that Israel was taking a surprising beating. I am sure that many Israelis are viewing this current carnage with a heavy heart.
Just today, I scanned the online edition of Haaretz and found a very interesting controversy on the front page. It was a fierce debate between a journalist who strongly criticizes the Gaza campaign and a famous Israeli writer, who feels the campaign is justified. Neither of them mince words, and reading their correspondence gives you an idea of how fraught, and how morally and emotionally complex it is to live under such circumstances, if you still have a moral conscience.
To be honest, I am tired of Qassam rocket counts on facebook. No matter how you spin it, they can't hold a candle to dead children counts.
We cannot lose our moral compass.

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