A good friend of mine from school (Jordan F.) wrote a response some months ago to the shooting of a Palestinian father and son. The shooting by Israelis made headlines all across the world with footage that was replayed over the internet as well as media outlets. As I read his document I was moved at what was written and I saved the email he had sent out to me and others. I am now going to republish his document on my blog for all to see. I trust whomever reads this will come away with a better appreciation for the freedoms we have in the US as well as a conscious effort to disregard the trivial matters that we let grasp us and then complain about.
More than a Conflict
Death is always a tragic event. The death of one so young is perhaps the
greatest of tragedies. War is indeed a tragic thing, always leaving the
lives of those it touches worse in some way. War is an evil—not an act of
immorality per se, but evil insofar as it is a facet of a corrupt world in
which we were not intended to live.
But in an evil world, war is a sad reality for many. To combat those who
would spread their wickedness, malice must be met with equal force. To
those who live the dismal tale of humanity, war has always been, and shall
always be. The daily struggle for survival plaguing all who have the
misfortune of waking each morning in Isræl is but one sad chapter in this
long, sad tale.
This chapter, however, is longer than most. It is, in fact, destined to be
the longest installment in the struggle that defines us, for none has known
this conflict more intimately the Jews. Throughout history the Jews have
been maligned, despised, and ostracized for no greater crime than bearing
the stigma of having been born Jewish.
Still the Jews face daily the prospect of their spouses, children, and
parents being senselessly killed by those who choose to hate. Although
compelled to defend their very existence, the Jews have endeavored to make
peace with those who hold the annihilation of Israel as their defining duty.
Nor is racism a novel development in the history of the humankind. Disdain
for any who has the audacity to be different from one’s ideal is another
unyielding evil. Throughout the centuries, countless people — thinkers and
dreamers, and the common and vulgar alike — have been despised for daring to
challenge the prejudices of another, whether by thought, deed, speech,
status, means, appearance, or whatever. As long as man inhabits the earth,
there will be those who are different; as long as dissimilarity persists,
there will be intolerance.
Isrælis have reached out to those who hate them and in return receive
nothing but more hate, more lies, and more death. Even when Isræl must
resort to force to defend its people, it takes great pains to ensure the
humane treatment of all. IDF soldiers are under standing orders never to
fire live ammunition on minors, even belligerent ones. When an Isræli
soldier crosses the line between security and brutality, the punishment is
swift, sure, and severe. Many have found themselves stripped of their
command and facing criminal charges at courts-martial.
Despite the precautions taken by the government, nothing can stop an
individual from taking his feelings into his own hands. In societies where
hate and distrust have reigned for centuries, passing from generation to
generation, there can be no hope for reconciliation. In Israel, children,
Jewish and Arabic alike, are raised in communities under constant threat of
attack. Never knowing when the next strike will come or from where, they
are taught to be always be wary of those who are different. It is easy to
understand how even a well-meaning individual could misinterpret or
overreact to the actions of a stranger in an atmosphere of constant terror
and suspicion. Indeed, in a culture such as this, it is a wonder that
incidents like the heart-rending killing of this young boy are not more
Sadly, those who seek to discredit Israel are fully aware of the dangers
posed by a culture of paranoia. Workers of terror shielding themselves
among groups of children seek to exploit Isræl’s precarious security
situation, forcing guards to fire or risk the slaughter of the citizens
(children included) they swore to defend. Preachers of hate poison the
minds of the young, teaching that Isræl is an enemy who seeks their
destruction. Children, easily convinced by the parents and teachers they
naturally trust, lob fiery cocktails at innocent soldiers and passers-by.
A tragedy? Yes, and a lamentable one. The result of Israeli misconduct?
Hardly. The fault for such events as this lies at the hearts of all those
everywhere who would deny to any the right to be different — the right to be.
What can be done to end such evil? In many ways, for Isræl it is perhaps
too late. But what about your community? Your home? Yourself, even? Have
you ever mocked or harassed someone simply because he failed to conform to
your concept of reality? The answer to our problems will not be found in
some book or treatise. The trouble will not be solved by sending more
troops, more food, more money (although those things may be needed). The
answer can only be found with a choice. Everyone must choose either to hate
or to love. The power to hate comes naturally. The power to love requires
an effort, a diligence. To love we must look beyond ourselves, a focus that
each of us finds difficult to maintain.
Your mother probably told you that you should always leave things better
than you found them. Each of us has the power to make the world a better
place. Each morning as you get out of bed is your goal to make your corner
of the world a better place that day? Or are you too busy trying to make
things better for yourself?
What will you choose?