“When an arrow leaves the hand of a warrior he cannot take it back.” (Mechilta of Rabbi Ishmael, Beshallach, Shirah)
From this classic Jewish teaching we learn that violence unleashes a myriad of consequences that we can neither control nor reverse. Apropos of recent events, I take this to mean many things:
…when you loose tons and tons of bombs on a small patch of land inhabited by 1.5 million people, you will invariably kill a myriad civilians.
…we cannot begin to fathom the depths of grief and loss that Israel’s actions have brought upon scores of Gazans, their families and loved ones. Indeed, even in the wake of a fragile ceasefire the death toll continues to rise. (Read this article from today’s NY Times, which documents heartbreaking scenes of victims continuing to be pulled from the rubble weeks after they were killed).
…we cannot comprehend the anger and fury Israel’s actions have inspired in Gazans, Palestinians, and the Arab world at large. Yesterday I spoke with a Palestinian American friend who told me he had never seen the Arab streets so inflamed against Israel – and in many cases, against their own governments. (The anger of Egyptian citizens toward their goverment is frightening to behold).
…it is impossible to underestimate the damage this war has done to the already tenous prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine. Most analysts seem to agree that no matter whoever might be considered the military “victor” in this war, the moderate Fatah (at present Israel’s only Palestinian peace partner) is the heaviest political casualty. Moderate Arab countries are all the queasier about supporting the peace process and the Saudis are now under fire to pull their plan from the table.
This quote from the NY Times article above sums up the tragic new reality on the ground:
In the upper middle-class neighborhood of Tal al-Hawa, Ziad Dardasawi, 40, a wood importer, was trying to process what had happened. As a supporter of Fatah, a political rival of Hamas, Mr. Dardasawi said that he despised Hamas, but that its rocket fire was no justification for Israel’s military response.
“Let’s say someone from Hamas fired a rocket — is it necessary to punish the whole neighborhood for that?” he said, standing in a stairway of his uncle’s house, where furniture had been smashed, and all the windows broken.
He drew on an analogy he thought would strike a chord: “In the U.S., when someone shoots someone, is his entire family punished?”
The Israeli actions made the situation more intractable, he said. “How can I convince my neighbors now for the option of peace? I can’t.”
He added: “Israel is breeding extremists. The feeling you get is that they just want you to leave Gaza.”
(Photo: Tyler Hicks/NY Times)