Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Back when I was young and much less mature

I can still recall with shame that when I was young and much less mature, I rationalized PLO attacks on school buses. My argument went something like this: "Their children die and no one cares. So in desperation they commit these acts of terrorism to get the world's attention."

I am deeply ashamed of those kinds of statements now. They demonstrated a callousness and also a sort of defensiveness. I understand now that, deep down, I knew that what the PLO was doing was wrong, but I was not confident enough in my beliefs and understanding to take a more nuanced position (the Palestinian people have been hurt grievously by the Israeli Defense Forces over the years, but that never justifies the wielding of violence against innocents). I was also rebelling against any number of things, which had little to do with Israel....

Whatever the explanation, saying things like that not only insulted those who died and grieved, but also degraded me. I was a caricature of a living, feeling, compassionate human being.

When I talk to fellow Jews now and hear them oh so blithely dismiss Israel's devastating attacks on an entire nation (Lebanon), the killing of scores, maybe even hundreds of innocent children, and simply blame it on Hezbollah, never Israel, I hear an echo of my earlier pathetic and immature stance.

When I talk to fellow Jews who are unable to admit that the vaunted Israeli Air Force can do anything wrong, who believe that anything the government of Israel does is, by definition, correct and moral (for example, "The IDF is the most moral military force in the world"), I feel very sad and depressed. I can almost sense their soul going gray, their moral edge going dull, their ability to celebrate all life and all people diminished, their humanity seeping out of them....

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