Thursday, August 03, 2006

War, Fasts and Proportionality

* The general consensus for the reason behind the destruction of the second temple was the sin of Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred. The Netziv adds a slightly different take on its meaning – that although everyone at the time was righteous and learned, they termed anyone who carried out commandments differently to them a heretic.

Someone who kept 6 hours after eating meat for example would think a mere 3 hourer was a disbeliever. Someone who held by the London Eruv wouldn’t get called up to read from the Torah.

In short, it was for the sin of only seeing black or white, an inability to appreciate difference and complexity, or to see other opinions as legitimate that caused fissures in our society and ultimately destroyed the temple.

* This week was the anniversary of the Disengagement, when 8,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes by the IDF with various films and demonstrations marking the event. One documentary ‘5 days’ followed the general responsible for the operation Dan Harel coming to evacuate Atzmona, a religious pre-military academy.

The soldiers came to find the 200 students in the Bet Midrash dancing and crying, led by their Rabbi, Rafi Peretz, himself a colonel in the reserves. Rav Rafi thinks Disengagement is a disaster yet when he sees Dan Harel he goes to hug him, sobbing ‘all this, its all so cynical.’ Members of the auditorium were shocked as to why anyone against Disengagement would even want to speak to Dan Harel.

* And in case anyone had forgotten, the war still continues...Friday’s Haaretz magazine ran a feature
interviewing the founders of the 4 mothers movement, a group of women who were highly influential in creating public pressure for an IDF withdrawal from Lebanon 6 years ago.

And as Katuyshas continued to rain down on Israeli cities and our boys were once again losing their lives in South Lebanon, the big question was whether they had been mistaken and what their current views were on the conflict.

One of the women, Zohora Antebi, responded ambivalently; 'Like all wars' she said 'this war, too is accursed. But this is an existential war at levels we do not yet understand. I think that it is approaching the War of Independence in terms of importance. It will determine whether Iran will control the Arab world. It will determine whether we will be able to survive against extreme Islam. I have no doubt about the necessity for this state. I am in Israel, because only in Israel will my child not be turned into soap. I am in Israel because I remember our attempt to assimilate into others for 2,000 years. And it is totally clear to me that all the French and German and Dutch bleeding hearts will not want us in their countries. This is the only place. And this place has to be fought for. We have to understand the complexity…'

Understanding complexity seems to be in short supply here…from those who a year on still view Disengagement as akin to what the Nazis did to Norwegian newspapers who compare Olmert to Amon Goeth. From those who see Sharon’s illness as a punishment for ethnic cleansing to those who decide moral accountability by tallying up body counts.

Of course it’s far simpler to accuse Israel of war crimes without struggling with issues of what the Geneva Convention says about states fighting non states who hide amongst civilians.

It’s far easier to talk about proportionality without discussing what kind of response against a fundamentalist terror organization with 13,000 rockets endangering a third of your country would be proportionate, or to immediately blame Israel even when its attacked on its own soil by organizations who aim at its destruction.

It’s harder to be like Rafi Peretz, or Zohora Antebi; harder to appreciate that a war can be justified but still accursed, harder to embrace a general carrying out an evil order, harder to see an opinion other than our own as legitimate.

So on Tisha Be’av, a day when we mark the destruction of our temple, the end of our sovereignty that was only recently regained and which we are currently fighting to protect, perhaps all of us, Israelis and Europeans, right and left wing, should attempt to embrace the complexity that wracks all our lives, try and be that extra bit proportionate in our opinions.

Because we didn’t regain this country to lose it making the same mistakes as in the past…


Avram said...

fantastic quote you used there from that woman ... keep on blogging mate, quality stuff.

ifyouwillit... said...

Before we can get peace with other nations we need peace amongst ourselves.

Zane Dyer said...

I enjoyed reading this