Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Tel Aviv mayor links terror attack to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands

No less a luminary then Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv, believes that the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is one of the underlying sparks of terrorism. I don't see how a thinking person can disagree. While I don't justify or excuse acts of terror, at the same time I can very easily see how someone who grew up under the occupation might choose to resist it violently. (I don't agree with that choice, and I think those who make that choice should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.)

Right-wing Israeli lawmakers will never acknowledge this point, because to acknowledge this point is to recognize their own responsibilities. Convincing yourself that Arab terrorists are evil, brainwashed cartoon villains, who are motivated only by irrational antisemitism and nothing else, is a way of letting yourself off the hook. If you turn Arabs into symbols, and forget that they are people, they and their grievances become easier to ignore. If they are symbols of evil, rather than humans, whatever you do to them is justified.

Instead, perhaps we should take a lesson from our father Jacob. As he waited for Esav, we're told that Jacob was "extremely distressed" over the possibility that he might have to kill someone (Rashi)

Why did the thought of killing distress Jacob? We have the right to defend ourselves, and our family do we not? The answer is this. God has the power to change Esav's heart and turn him back, and Jacob has the power to make peace with his brother. A battle with Esav - even a battle that ended in victory for Jacob-  means that Jacob, as a result of his sins, didn't merit peace and tranquility. It means that Jacob had failed either in his obligations to God, or in his obligations to his brother.

Rather than taking the Netanyahu approach, and writing the Arabs off as irredeemably evil, perhaps we should take the Huldai / Yaakov Avinu approach and look inward, instead of outward. Like Huldai and the patriarch perhaps we should ask ourselves what we have done -to God or to our opponents - to put ourselves in so much danger.

"We are the only ones in the world with another people living among us under…

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