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The Lives of Children 2 Update

Here is more on our subject of how children are spending their summer (at least in the Northern hemisphere).

ABC reporters are in Gaza. They saw first-hand an Israeli shelling of a beach where four boys were playing. Their Report here.

The story is confirmed in this eyewitness account of Guardian reporter, Peter Beaumont.

"It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: "They are only children."

"In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen's shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family."

UPDATE:  You may remember New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks from various mideast wars. He has this account in Thursday's paper of the killing of the four Palestnian boys. His photos show the grusome condition of their blown-apart bodies.  Here.

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Meanwhile on the other side:

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/mailbag/246476/mailbag-resident-of-r...

On the walk home there was a siren, my husband grabbed the kids and ran to the closest building. They were at least undercover if not in the safest room. Together with my two younger children, aged 2 and 4, my husband watched 4 rockets explode in the sky. With each boom the world shook, and my kids squeezed their father a little tighter. Tonight my four year old heard a sound during dinner, “A siren!” he wailed. Luckily he was wrong, but this is what is now ingrained in his heart. [...]

What do I tell my 6 year old as she lies in her makeshift bed too scared to sleep? As she wails in fear when her father leaves for a wedding? Do I make promises that all will be well? How can I? [...]

The other day my daughter told my husband she wishes she could kill the Arabs herself and make this all end. My husband responded that she is too small, that’s the army’s job  

This little girl will grow up and become an adult who will readily kill Palestinians.

The children in Gaza who didn't die in the attack described in the link will probably also grow up and become adults who readily kill Israelis.

How can this conflict ever end?

And also in Israel ... "10-Year-Old Girl Injured in Rocket Attack Fighting for Her Life"

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182901#.U8cdXqjYJZs

How can this conflict ever end?

I believe there is an old saying, goes something like this:
The killings will end when the people, on both sides, decide that they love their children more than they hate their enemies.

All this goes down to what history will finally describe as one of the great blunders of the twentieth century, the creation of the state of Israel. No matter what its moral justifications, it condemned the region to seventy six years of endless violence, and counting. Along the way, the Jewish nation has emulated the ruthless tactics of the Nazis: special license plates for Arabs, punishment of whole families and communities for actions by a few, a security apparatus based on terror, the expropriation of Arab land, and on and on, However Israel has suffered during this time, the plight of the Arabs is exponentially worse. Every man, woman, and child suffers from traumatic stress disorder.

A hundred years from now, the violence will continue. Lost along the way is Israel as a morally righteous nation. It is run by sociopaths. It may survive through its atomic bombs and U.S. supplied super weapons. But it will go down in history as a moral pariah.

Mr. Taylor, What has the creation of a Jewish state to do with what is going on today in Syria and in Iraq? The original sin dates back long before 1948, to Babel. It is tribalism and its uptown version, nationalism, which made such a horror of the 20th Century. If you want to see it at work, count the American flags at the hate rallies where god-fearing Americans demand that buses with children from Central America stay out of their communities. With just a small trigger, some of our neighbors would unleash rockets or bombs on those children in the name of nationalism. Laws for them, liberties for us.

Mr Taylor, I would also look a bit further into the past, say British interference post WWI. Whatever the sins of the State of Israel, it seems to make more sense than subduing, say, ethnic Kurds into states run by Arabs. I'm not sure there are many nation-states in southwest Asia that actually deserve their borders and sovereignty, given their behavior toward people-not-like-us. But life, including international relations, isn't always fair.

I think that as a practical matter all we can deal with are present day realities. I think we all understand by now that mistakes were made during the creation of the state of Israel. However, we will be arguing until the goats come home and this is not the most productive way forward. Ditto for the current national boudnaries of the mid-east.

But this kind of violence is off putting and I don't think assigning black and white hats to each sides is helpful. Each has made their contributions and each has to own their part.

As a strategic and political move, the Palestinians and Hamas would be far more effective if they engaged in non-violent disobedience of any and all laws surrounding their occupation and the kinds of restrictions imposed on them. In this day of media coverage, they would gain much more sympathy.

Their current tactics and ideology is actually backfiring. Muslims are increasingly rejecting the kind of Islamic ideology of these groups once they become more well known (can't recall where I saw that poll).

As for Israel, their finest spiritual tradition of ethics and ethical behaviour are being undermined by existing practices as William outlines.

At the same time, Hamas is acting very irrationally, erratically, and is difficult to reason with.

Hard for me to make judgements with limited information, context, history, and frankly interest. But all this makes me reflect on how I can better resolve conflict in my neck of the woods in my immediate surroundings.

Parsing responsibility for the current violence in Israel-Gaza doesn't come up with clean hands for any party. What is striking to me in reading several recent histories of Hertzl, Zionism, Britain, Truman and the U.S. is how many politicians, foreign policy advisors, Jews living in Palestine pre-1948, and Zionist activist, in the U.S. and abroad, understood that the establishment of the state of Israel was based on a false premise. That premise was that Palestine was virtually without a significant population and that Jewish emigres were displacing no one. It is summed up in the oft-quoted slogan: "A land without a people for a people without a land."

Many Jews and non-Jews alike recognized that there was indeed a signficant population of Arabs in Palestine. Some were prepared to overlook this. Some foresaw trouble in declaring a Jewish state and favored a plan that would create a federation over which Britian, the mandate power, would stand and prepare the country for future independence. Ardent Zionists, and their ardent U.S. supporters worked assiduously to thwart any such configuration, which was proposed by some officials in the British foreign office.

Arab officials in Palestine, (who represented the last vestige of the Ottoman Empire, and who after WWI were subject to the British Mandate Authorities), were opposed to large-scale Jewish settlement. The struggle immediately after WWII to settle Jews from displaced persons' camps in Europe set off a great struggle between the Zionists and Great Britain, which remained the mandate authority. The Zionists ultimately forced Britain out. The state of Israel has been dealing ever since with a land that aready had a people.

MOS, People is just another word for "tribe," and I don't think Israel's problems will ever be solvable tribe-to-tribe. I remember reading that Mohamed Mossaddegh, when he was prime minister of Iran in the 1950s, refused to meet with Greek diplomats because he was still so ticked off by what Alexander the Great did to Iran (Persia) in the 300s B.C. Long memories. Deep passions.

(I think the source for that is Steven Kinzer's All the Shah's Men, happily loaned out and unhappily never returned, so I can't verify that.)

Margaret, your historical sketch actually was covered at a high level in the Leon Uris novel Exodus which I read as a teenager (at that time, many years ago, it already was no longer a new book).  Looking back on it, it was one part history, two parts fiction, and six or seven parts pro-Israeli propaganda, but as a teen I found it a ripping good read.

It's hard to believe that a beach with children playing can be mistaken for a strategic target. We've been told so much about how hard the Israelis are trying to not target civilians. Really? 

And I'm sorry but I am tired of the constant "everyone is to blame" meme. This overlooks the vastly disproportionate cost of the conflict for the Palestinian people.

The so called "war" between an entity that has no army no air force no navy, nothing but a few rocket launchers that have killed 1, and Israel, one of the best armed nations in the world which has already killed 214 in this particular episode, is not a war. It's an episode in genocide.

Jim, Yeah, and the movie based on the book (with Paul Newman and Sal Mineo inter alia) was memorable, with a wonderful bit of movie theme music written by Ernest Gold. When Pat Boone (yes, white bucks himself) wrote lyrics, and Andy Williams et al recorded it, the following pericope topped the charts:

"This land is mine. God gave this land to me / This brave and ancient land to me / And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain / I see a land where children can run free."

Well, there you are. "God gave this land to me." It's in the Book. Not so much the part about children runing free.

I've never read Leon Uris's Exodus, never saw the movie. I have often heard it referred to as highly successful propoganda because readers took it for history. I doubt it represents that history except for the story of the ship itself being turned away by the British. There is a certain romantic view of the founding of Israel and its early days, especially the strenuous efforts of the Kibbutz movement and Kibbutzniks to till the land under a socialist rubric. Israeli politics has drifted a long way from those rosy views.

Rita Ferrone: A careful reading of the Guardian story and subsequent reports suggest that the gunners recalibrated their aim to catch the boys running across the beach after a first shot destroyed the shed they were playing near. The second (some reports say third) shot caught the four of them. I am not clear about the injured boy and which shot caught him.

I agree with George B.  The history of the founding of Israel has been summarized by Margaret.  It leaves out a lot, but it is just a summary.  History cannot be undone. Mistakes that may have been made in the 1940s cannot be undone 66 years after the fact.  Israel is. That is the reality.  

Hamas and the PLO and other extremist groups have not done their own people any favors in the ongoing struggle either. Some of the more extreme leaders seem not to really want peace or a settlement - perhaps they fear losing the hate that keeps them going.  Neither side has clean hands.

So, what do people here think might be done to bring peace?  A lot of very good minds have attempted to come up with solutions since Israel was founded. Some leaders on both sides have attempted to bring it about - and some of those have been killed for their efforts. 

Since history cannot be rewritten, how do you change the reality? How does one change the hearts of the Palestinian groups who put their weaponry in populated neighborhoods that include homes, schools and hospitals, knowing that their own people will suffer when Israel "takes out" the weapons, making victims of their own people so that they can portray the Israelis as evil people killing women and children?  They condemn, and yet they deliberately place their own civilians at risk, and they send martyrs (usually their own children - teenagers) with bombs wired to them to Israel when they can, to kill innocent women and children in shopping malls, buses and restaurants.  There is plenty of wrong on both sides.

How do you change the hearts of the hawks in Israel who believe that any sign of softness will be interpreted as weakness and potentially subject their people to a new round of attacks from the Arab countries who have publicly stated that they want to "wipe them from the face of the earth"?  Is it not at least somewhat understandable that the memory of the Holocaust may cause  some to decide "Never again. If we have to, in order to survive, we will be as violent as Christians and Muslims have been to us for most of our history. In the Hebrew scriptures, we find the source that religion once used to justify retribution -  of "an eye for an eye." We know that later generations of rabbis softened the teachings to conform with later views of monetary compensation for harm done. But just as there are fundamentalist Muslims who justify their violence as religiously demanded, and fundamentalist christians who do the same, there are fundamentalist Jews who still keep to the ancient understanding of retribution in kind.

How do you change all those religious minds who justify their violence and hatred by distorting the teachings of Islam, christianity and Judaism?

I have lived in a community that is about 2/3 Jewish for the last 40 years of my life. I have learned a lot. I do not approve of all that Israel does, but I don't approve of all the Arab countries and Palestinians do either.  However, while not approving of some of what Israel does, I have come to understand it at least a little bit. Last year I visited my dear neighbors while the family sat shiva, after the husband lost his father, a Polish Jew who somehow survived the Holocaust.  He is one of very, very few Jews who did survive in Poland.  There is a reason the survivors continue to tell the story. It is one that must not be forgotten.   I have learned to look through their eyes, at least a little bit.  Most of the Jews I know are not hawks - they remember the Shoah, but they do not use that remembrance to justify all violence against Israel's enemies. However, they also do not wish to see Israel destroyed.  They walk a fine line.

George's comment is spot on. The Palestinians within Israel were in the perfect position for non-violent non-cooperation. Think of the immersion into a nation's economy: workforce, tourism, residential communities, and such. A Gandhian approach would eviscerate the power of the powers-that-be. The way this conflict has been managed brings to mind the incompetence of WWI, the Crimean War, and the like.

And yes, blame all sides, by all means. But keep in mind that 99% or more of the collateral damage is borne by Palestinians.

"an entity that has no army no air force no navy"

And yet ... "Since 2001, Palestinian militants have launched thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip as part of the continuing Arab–Israeli conflict. As of July 2014 the attacks have killed 28 people,[1] mostly civilians, and injured thousands, but their main effect is their creation of widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life among the Israeli populace.[2]"  - if you want to be fair, read the wikipedia artic;e on the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel

I have a blogging friend who lives in Israel.  She is a wonderful person who never says a bad word about anyone, even now when she's spending parts of her day every day in a bamb shelter because of the rockets fired at her little town in the south. 

Until and unless Israel and the Palestinians elect leaders who are PUBLICLY and patiently committed to doing whatever it takes to ending this conflict, it won't happen.

Such leaders will never be elected by either side.

This conflict is doomed to be with us in perpetuity.

Things are complciated by the US complicity with Israel in supplying money and arms to them.  The Palestinians know this and, hence, the US is determined to be as guilty as IsraeL and is The Great Satan in the eyes of the militants. 

And maybe it is.

Militant Islamists and Jews are like Fundamentalist Christians:  God is on their side and they will never let anyone forget it.

Psychological trauma vs. corpses piled higher and higher.

It's so easy to identify with the well-protected, well-established, well-fed people, our allies, whose fears and injuries we see as a great and unprovoked injustice. Wonderful people, Just like us! So much harder to identify with those other people, the poor and dispossessed and desperate, the ones mourning their dead and imprisoned in endless ranks, the ones turned out of their land and their homes, terrorized by the state and without hope. Why are they so violent, we ask ourselves, mystified. Why don't they realize it's their own fault and accept their lot without resistence?

To be fair, count the corpses. 

In today's The Tablet (I don't know if the link opens only for subscribers or not):

Israeli leaders might loathe Hamas, but they know and understand an old adversary

17 July 2014 by David Blair

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/columnists/3/2880/israeli-leaders-might-loathe-hamas-but-they-know-and-understand-an-old-adversary

Rita,

I realize you don't like me much - that's become apparent at other places like Pray Tell -  but please don't attribute dispicable opinions and feelings to me ... 

It's so easy to identify with the well-protected, well-established, well-fed people, our allies, whose fears and injuries we see as a great and unprovoked injustice. Wonderful people, Just like us! So much harder to identify with those other people, the poor and dispossessed and desperate ...

Actually it's not, at least not for me.  I identify with the downtrodden and it's unusual for me a left leaning liberal to be on the "side" of Israel.  But I've read a lot about the centuries of anti-Semitism, about the Jewish experience in WWII, about the beginning of Israel, and about the many terrorist attacks on Jews there and around the world, and I've come to the conclusion that we, especially we Catholics, owe them big time.  And while I don't agree with all Israel has done, I don't think we in the US would be doing any better in their place (Cuban missle crisis).  And I think the Arabs who are fueling the terrorism do not want it to stop and are sacrificng their own people to keep themselves in power.

Margaret - based on what you wrote about Exodus, which you've never read, I can only say - no need to read it, as you pretty much recapped it perfectly.  (Writing about books I've never read was a skill I mastered as an undergraduate, but I've gotten rusty in the ensuing decade.  I could never be a late-night televiision host).

Tom - I'm sorry to say that your note about that song piqued my interest, so I hunted it up on Youtube.  That's 3:16 of my life I'll never get back.  

I have nothing of weight to contribute to the topic at hand, except: pray for peace.  Whether allowing Christians to live in the Middle East contributes to that effort, I can't say for certain, but it couldn't hurt.

Hmm, rereading my previous comment, "decade" should have been plural.  Emphatically.

From Jacobin:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/a-plague-on-one-house/

Our media cover Israel and the Palestinians as they do the Republicans and Democrats:  Both Sides Do It.  It's "fair and balanced," which means lame, craven, and irresponsible.

Crystal Watson: Your generalizations and non sequiters are tolerated here because generally they are inoffensive. For the record, I object to this:

"But I've read a lot about the centuries of anti-Semitism, about the Jewish experience in WWII, about the beginning of Israel, and about the many terrorist attacks on Jews there and around the world, and I've come to the conclusion that we, especially we Catholics, owe them big time."

It is offensive.  Especially the word "especailly" and the word "we."

Jim, Don't blame me. I told you about it so you wouldn't have to listen to it. (Actually, the tune is kinda neat if you imgine acres of sand dunes, palm trees and Paul Newman.)

Being Israeli nowadays is a moral quandary. A few years ago I read about an Israeli soldier who shot and injured a Palestinian woman, then saw that she was pregnant, started yelling: "How can we be doing this? How can we be doing such things?", removed his rifle and furiously tried to break it. He had to be restrained and was later declared unfit and discharged from the army.

Without weapons, Israel would be anihilated instantaneously, in a few days - most of the Israelis I know are deeply convinced of that. Such is the hate between the people around them and themselves. But what the Israeli government and army are doing is unconscionable. But there is no way forward that I can imagine.

One of the very few places where Arab and Jewish youth can meet peacefully: the Sea Scouts of Yafo. "The Sea Scouts of Yafo were founded in 1957 within the framework of the General Scouts of Tel Aviv-Yafo. The Yafo Sea Scout Troop (one of eight Sea Scout troops in Israel) is distinguished by the fact that it has a mixed Arab-Jewish demographic. The troop meets seven days a week; over 100 of its 250 members are defined as at-risk youth. Having a safe haven to go to provides these teens with an alternative activity to life on the streets." http://www.telavivfoundation.org/UserFiles/News_and_Media/PDFs/newslette...

Such initiatives are strongly discouraged by the current govenment. I believe that there is no governmental financing for it. Since, in dangerous times, loyal people are expected to gather around their leader, the Israelis who criticize the aggressive stance of the govenment are viewed as traitors. Being Israeli nowadays is a moral quandary.

As Jim wrote: pray for peace.

And I think the Arabs who are fueling the terrorism do not want it to stop and are sacrificng their own people to keep themselves in power.

Crystal, I am most definitely not an expert in the mid-east. But I have read enough to know that what you say is certainly part of the problem - perhaps a big part of it. The Palestinians are killed at much higher rates than Israelis. They do not have as sophisticated of weapons, but they also choose to place the weapons they do have in civilian areas in order to continue their almost daily rocket assaults on Israel.  By doing this, they are deliberately choosing to put their own people in harm's way, and it does seem to many mid-east experts it is so they can stay in power. Meanwhile their people continue to suffer. When the corpses are counted, how many of them are there because the Hamas and PLO have placed their rocket launchers in civilian buildings and neighborhoods?  

I have no idea what might end this endless cycle of violence in the middle-east.  Jim P says to pray. That is pretty much all we can do, but if prayers brought about world peace, given all the billions and billions of prayers that have been sent up in the last century, all the wolves should by lying with the lambs right now.  Prayer alone will not bring about the peaceable kingdom.  The Palestinians need a Ghandi.

Margaret, why is Crystal's statement about the history of anti-semitism that christians, including Catholics, are sadly part of offensive to you?  

Israel is - it exists. History can't be rewound and Israel not founded. The same is true of the history of anti-semitism.  Christian complicity, including Catholic complicity, in the sad history of anti-semitism in the west is reality.  As Catholics, we do not like that part of our history, it is more than just embarassing, it is shameful, but we can't deny the role christians and the Catholic church too often played in this tragic history.

Clair, thank you for the information about the Sea Scouts.  Here is another program that brings together Palestinian and Israeli youth.  One hopes that the younger generation may learn to be friends on the courts or in Sea Scouts and will want to end the cycle of hatred and violence.

http://www.peaceplayersintl.org/our-programs/middle-east

 I'm not trying to insult Catholics, but it's historical fact that the Church has had centuries of anti-Semitism, from the homilies of Hohn Chrysostom ... http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.asp ... to papally  created ghettos ...  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cum_nimis_absurdum

AC: Read her statement!

"We, especially we Catholics, owe them big time."

Christian anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism is historically documented. Also documented is that it waxed and waned throughout history.

The Holocaust may have been the most virulent form of anti-Semitism, but it was the work of Nazi Germany, of Hitler, and of the machinery of death created by Hitler's German state. In fact, the Germans have paid up big time and continue to do so. Catholics, Protestants, secularists of European and /or American lineage have accepted responsibility for not stopping the Holocaust. Using the Holocaust and guilt thereof to compel support for Israel and its actions is offensive.

You write above about "fine lines" for Jewish Americans, Americans, etc. There are many fine lines.

Whoever shot those Palestinian children, what was he thinking?

Was he like the frightened little girl, wishing he could just kill the Arabs and thereby bring peace? Let's see what kind of plan takes that route. If you kill all Arab men but let the little children live, do you know what will happen when those children grow up? I can tell you: big trouble.  So if you go the way of killing, then you have to go all the way; you can't stop half-way, killing some and sparing some. That won't bring peace. To obtain peace, you have to kill them all. (And, for good measure, maybe yourself as well.)

Or was he blinded by his hate of Palestinians? Maybe his brother got killed by a suicide bomber, and he (or she) thinks that all Palestinians are terrorists. When he sees some hiding and running, he does not stop to think about their being children, but he reflexively targets and shoots. Indeed, if Palestinians are terrorists, then Palestinian children are just young terrorists, and hide-and-seek is guerrilla war practice.

Israeli writer Bernard Avishai has this to say.  "One Israeli man was killed at the border. The fresher grievances turn the older ones vague: three hitchhiking Israeli teens were kidnapped, two protesting Palestinian youths were shot dead two weeks before, there was a revenge murder by a rogue group of Israeli fanatics—you can unspool this vendetta back to the Balfour Declaration, in 1917."

New Yorker   on line.

Crystal @ 3:33, you are wrong. I actually like you a lot.

Also, you are mistaken in thinking that I was attributing despicable opinions to you personally. These are far more general attitudes which I believe are alive and well and influencing policy. If you don't share these attitudes, good. But they are very real, and "being fair" too often means favoring the people with whom we naturally identify because we really can't imagine the point of view of a displaced and oppressed people in an occupied territory.

There is a huge bias in our system in this conflict. The more the Palestinians are humiliated and dehumanized, the easier it is for some people to loathe and exclude them and regard their status as "proof" of their culpability and incorrigably violent nature, etc. So rather than come to terms with the fact that violence is being done systematically to these people we blame them for holding life cheap, and other slanders that demonize them and deflect criticism away from the powerful. 

Whatever you may think we owe Israeli Jews, we don't owe them a whitewash of the current political regime. What we owe the memory of the Holocaust is the commitment to opposition of racism and state-sponsored violence, whoever today's victims may be.

"Whoever shot those Palestinian children, what was he thinking?"  He wasn't.  Thinking, that is; at least not rationally.  Makes me think about the situation on our southern border, also involving children.  All it would take, would be for some hot-headed or mentally unstable vigilante to lose it and open fire.  And a tension-fraught situation would escalate to a nightmare. I'm just praying that nothing like that happens.

Mr. Avishai is right. But that doesn't provide a road forward. The world will not go back to 1917 or to 1948 or to June of 1967.  If you think this is possible, many would be interested in hearing how it would come about.

Using the Holocaust and guilt thereof to compel support for Israel and its actions is offensive.

I'm not so sure that it's an attempt to "compel" support for Israel as it is an attempt to get people to try to walk in the shoes of the Jews for a while and to see the "other" side. To try to see at least a little bit through their eyes. The Jewish people have been persecuted for most of their history, thousands of years, including a good bit of the last 2000, One does not have to "support" Israel's policies in order to try to understand them.  And to understand why they might not trust anyone - including christians - to have their survival at heart.

You write above about "fine lines" for Jewish Americans, Americans, etc. There are many fine lines.

Yes there are. Many fine lines for all of us.  

I have a very hard time fully "supporting" either side. I do not support Israel's wholesale attacks, but I also do not support Palestinian tactics to deliberately put their own civilians at risk by using them as human shields for their weapons installations.. I do not support their terrorist actions in wiring up their own kids as human bombs and sending them to ride a bus in Israel.  

I do try to at least begin to understand both sides as best I can - which is not much real understanding, because I am neither an oppressed Palestinian or a Jew who has a bomb shelter in my home and whose grandparents died in Auschwitz. I actually do empathize with both sides. Both have suffered. Both have been "right" and both have been "wrong".  Commonweal seems to be totally on one side of the issue, however. I think Crystal was trying to bring another viewpoint into the discussion. Because there are two viewpoints.

 I live in relative safety and with material comfort as do all commenting here. But living in a Jewish community has led me to study the history of the Jews more than I might have had I lived in a nice, comfortable Irish Catholic milieu all my life, surrounded mostly by nice, liberal white Catholics who think just the same way I do.

 We descendants of the Irish know that our ancestors suffered also, but few peoples have been persecuted as consistently throughout history as the Jews. I cringe every time I read a quote from John Chrysostom, because no matter how beautifully he expressed some things, the ugliness and vileness of the words of his Eight Homilies against the Jews tend to come to mind. Few christians have read those homilies, nor even know about them. But many Jews know about them, and know about a lot of other things that the christians have airbrushed out of their histories.

 I do not condone much of what Israel does, nor do most of my Jewish neighbors condone all of it. Most of them support the Israeli peace groups. But, we cannot undo history. We have to try to understand both sides - neither of which are totally innocent. Perhaps by growing in understanding, some political genius will eventually find a way to move past the violent stalemate that has existed so long, the cycle of vengeance and retribution summarized in the quote by Mr. Avishai, because going back in history and redoing everything is not an option.

Rita,

I'm glad you don't dislike me  :)    Maybe because I do tend to hang arund with other lefties, I see more often a tendency to err on the side of the Palestinians, and I did feel that way too before I began reading about this history of the situation.  Not saying I'm right in what I think - I'm sure I have my prejudices, and one of them is to want to go opposite to the majority view. 

 So if you go the way of killing, then you have to go all the way; you can't stop half-way, killing some and sparing some. That won't bring peace. To obtain peace, you have to kill them all.

Claire, you may be right that the shooter was "thinking" along those lines, although I doubt he was really thinking at all - blindly reacting to emotions of hate.  However, it is not Israel who has expressed a desire to wipe all Arab and Muslim countries off the map, it is Israel's enemies who have publicly declared that peace will only come after they have destroyed Israel completely - killed all the Jews.  Hate begets hate.  So how can it be changed so that love will beget love?

"But living in a Jewish community has led me to study the history of the Jews more than I might have had I lived in a nice, comfortable Irish Catholic milieu all my life, surrounded mostly by nice, liberal white Catholics who think just the same way I do."

Anne, on what basis do you think you have any idea at all what Palestinians' lives are like? How can you claim to sympathize with both sides and then say right out that you have lived among Jews and studied their history but say not one word about "the other side" which you claim to empathize with?

I am flummoxed by your statement that "Commonweal seems to be totally on one side of the issue." That is not even remotely the case. As I read Commonweal I find it to be pro-Israel, with a few conscientious nuances added from a few voices. The fact that you could think that Commonweal is pro-Palestinian (I presume this is your point) shows how little you've ever been even mildly exposed to "the other side." 

Claire asked what the guys who shot the children were thinking, whether they were influenced by other events in their lives.  I don't know the answer in that specific case, but  I think it must be true that many Israelis are affected by personal tragedy .... for instance, probably many of them have relatives who died in concertration camps.  I know Netanyahu is especially reviled here, but when I think of him and his attitudes, I think of his brother.  He was killed during Operation Entebbe, rescuing hundreds of hostages hyjacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1976. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Entebbe

Critics of Israel cite the disparity of casualties - few for Israel, many for Palestinians - as a reason to question Israel's actions.  But the scorecard approach would have us sympathize not just with Hamas but with many other aggressors, going back at least as far as King Darius.  Herodotus tells us that in the Battle of Marathon casualties for Greeks were 192, for Persians more than 6,000.  But few mourn the outcome of that battle.

Below is a voice from a beautiful, American, Palestinian poet, Suheir Hammad entitled, What I Will, that is apt for the occasion. I posted before.  I also enjoy her poetry. 

She really points the way forward in terms of resistance to Israel in a non-violent and assertive manner. Additionally, she provides an important face and voice of the Palestinian people. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFbE8RBhSDw

Molloy -- the Persian casualties were soldiers.  The Palestinian casualties are mostly civilians.  You know, as in unarmed.

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When the "Palestinians" stop initiating the unprovoked launch of missiles into Israel, from missile sites intentionally located in or near schools, hospitals, playgrounds, grocery stores, cafes...you get the picture.  Whenever children and/or civilians are killed or maimed by IDF forces, it is the "Palestinians" who are responsible.  Please stop playing this game of words that seeks to fog up what are crystal-clear scenarios of "Palestinian" psywar operations designed to generate sympathy for Hamas, Hezbollah, and other murderous organizations.  You are obviously an intelligent and articulate person.  You are being played.

Enough with the quotation marks around Palestinians, de-legitimizing the identity of a people.  Joan Peters was debunked a long, long time ago.  

BTW, the idea that no state would tolerate having missiles fired into its territory, and that Israel has no alternative to aerial and ground retaliation, is wrong.  The IRA launched plenty of missile attacks into Northern Ireland in the 1970s, yet the British never thought either of aerial bombardment or of a ground offensive into the Republic of Ireland.  

And let's just review the empirical evidence, shall we?

“Both sides” rhetoric refuses to make even the easiest, most obvious judgment, to which any honest evaluation of the information points: that Israel is massacring Palestinian adults and children, 77% of whom are civilians, and subjecting them to collective punishment; that Israel evidently claims for itself a right to extra-judicially execute anyone who it says is a Hamas member, a practice too few among even Palestine’s allies have denounced; that Israel is bombarding what is essentially a giant refugee camp home to an imprisoned population of a people Israel has ethnically cleansed, occupied, subjected to apartheid, and repeatedly slaughtered; that international law does not grant Israel a “right to defend itself” against the Gaza Strip. And that international law does grant Palestinians a right to resist using armed struggle.

To employ “both sides” rhetoric completely misrepresents the situation. It is not “both sides” who take thousands of political prisoners. Both sides do not systematically torture each other. Both sides do not control each other’s freedom of movement, or access to the sea, drinking water, and education.

Since Israel began its bombing campaign on July 7, only one side has bombed a hospital for the disabled and destroyed a place of worship. It was that same side who on July 9 killed a pregnant woman and her one-year-old daughter and then on July 11 killed two civilian municipal workers in a refugee camp, killed nine civilians watching a soccer game, and “fired four missiles targeting the fifth and sixth floors of a hospital.”

In rebuttal to McCarraher's defense of Hamas' depravity see “Moral clarity in Gaza”, Charles Krauthammer, WP 7/18/14

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-moral-clarity-in-gaza/2014/07/17/0adabe0c-0de4-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html  :

"Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”....

"It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear."

[MOS: the original post violated copyright law; the first and last paras are above with a link to the Washington Post column.]

An op-ed piece in today's NYTimes captures much of what I have been reading in Haaretz and the Jewish Daily Forward on how Israel and Gaza came to the current pass. The author from the International Crisis Group points to the Palestenian Authority-Hamas reconciliation agreement as the beginning point of the current outbreak of violence. PM Netanyahu was and is opposed to the agreement, the U.S. supported it, but opposed any money transfers to the PA in Gaza, and you escalate from there.

A quote: "Israel strongly opposed American recognition of the new government, however, and sought to isolate it internationally, seeing any small step toward Palestinian unity as a threat. Israel’s security establishment objects to the strengthening of West Bank-Gaza ties, lest Hamas raise its head in the West Bank. And Israelis who oppose a two-state solution understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace."

Nathan Thrall writing in the NYTimes.

Thanks, Michael J. Kelly, for providing Krauthammer's column.  

I hope everyone, even Margaret and Rita, will read Krauthammer, particularly these passages:

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

. . .

Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.

Mr. Kelly has violated the fair usage rule in quoting the whole column. I have asked him to select an excerpt with a link to the WashPost. I hope he will oblige.

The tragic reality is that both sides are trying to kill each other, with little apparent regard for avoiding civilians, including women and children.  If we grant that the Israelis are not deliberately targeting civilians and that Hamas is, it should still be obvious to the Israelis that the airstrikes they conduct invariably kill women and children.  At this point the civilian deaths cannot be considered an accident; they are part of Israel's war calculus.  In effect, Israel, like Hamas, is willing to kill nocombatants as a means to their end. 

I think the whole implicit argument of who is to blame--or more to blame--is pointless.  There is too much blood on the hands of both sides--and on the hands of all the governments and peoples who enable and support the violence.

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