Over the last year or so, I have felt myself hardening, growing increasingly jaded about the day to day happenings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have been working on this issue for many years and made a promise to myself early on that I would stop if I ever lost touch with the emotion and passion that led me to choose this work in the first place.
Intellectually, I read the headlines and recognize the rapidly growing distance between the present and peace. However, if I'm honest, feelings of anger, frustration and alarm have been absent for some time.
All that changed today. The first two headlines I read left me absolutely infuriated and sadder than I've been in a long time. Late Thursday night, Jewish youth savagely attackedthree Palestinians while shouting racist slurs in Jerusalem's Zion Square. Earlier that day, settlers hurling fire bombs at Palestinians in the West Bank, wounding a family of six.
This made me want to scream at the top of my lungs, "These are not my Jewish values!"
Some may question whether I am the right person to declare some form of ownership over Jewish values -- with a Jewish, Israeli mother and a Muslim, Pakistani father. I have let that worry stop me from speaking up before, but I refuse to let that silence me this time. The Judaism I was raised with is all about dugma ishit, or leadership by example.
I have heard Jews from across the spectrum of orthodoxy state that the Jewish people are a light onto all nations. True or not, every self-identifying Jew must recognize that when these kinds of vitriolic, hateful actions are perpetrated in the name of Jewish values -- by those who claim superiority and entitlement over others -- we not only fuel the growing tide of global anti-Semitism, we render ourselves completely unworthy of the title "the chosen people."
If this is the future of the so-called Jewish State, then I say no, thank you.
We cannot turn a blind eye to these events. They may be exceptional at the moment, but if the Israeli public chooses to sit silently by and allow these actions to be taken in their name, then they are all guilty by association.
When a Palestinian act of terror has been committed, we all rightly demand condemnation. Why is this situation any different? If anything, this is a key opportunity for the Israeli leadership to show their dugma ishit and demonstrate a commitment to non-violence as the only means toward peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Every single day, more and more negative realities are being created. If we take a step back, we can actually measure the growing rift that has formed between the present day, the status quo of conflict and occupation, and the future of the two-state solution.
These actions must be stopped. If the political leadership does not stand up to condemn them, then they are not worthy of being called leaders. Let the people stand up and show what real Jewish values are made of!
The manners of a man are supposed to make him, and her, of course. Without manners we cannot lay claim to being civilised. We acquire these manners through our education and demonstrate it through our communciation - speech and behaviour.
Looking around one may not think so. Many highly educated people have demonstrated otherwise, being rude and uncouth both in public and in private. Education seems to be no guarantee for logical thought or rational conversation. Nor does education seem to have created a set of people who can actually research and retain facts, and then base their opinions on a solid foundation. This, is either a personal failure or one of the system. Without pointing fingers here, for that would be fruitless - a greater failure comes to mind - the failure to self govern.
There is no greater shame than the need to be policed. As a democracy, the freedoms we have are collective. We retain the freedom only if we do not damage anybody in the group - else we give the police the chance to come and tell us what to do. It is as we learnt at school - if the mischief is mild, and nobody gets hurt, we can carry on and self regulate. If the mischief hurts anybody, the teacher must intervene.
These are the norms and values we learnt at school, and these are what we carry on with in life. But it is sad that our school taught us to fear and avoid the teacher’s intervention but there was little thought given to eliminating the need for such intervention. The upper hand was always retained by some one else in charge - we were never wholly in charge of ourselves. We neither sought to behave in a mature fashion as a group, nor was maturity expected of us since we were policed.
This meant that some of us did not know how to exercise boundaries unless policed. And since they broke decent bounds often enough, they gave reason for the police (read teacher/principal/headteacher) to interevene and punish the group. With self regulation and self discipline, especially as one grows older, the need for an over arching authority with the tools for punishment should cease to exist. This is the meaning of growing up, this is the purpose of education.
We see the consequences of this in public life today where a dash of censorship has been exercised by those who have the power to do so. It is no doubt true that free speech is essential in a democracy, and it is the task of journalists - both professional and citizen journalists to call out those in power. The task of calling out what one thinks is wrong is neither easy, nor pleasant. It is not possible to mince words in attacking what is wrong. But that is not hate, nor is it abuse.
Then, there are those, who foolishly attack thinking they are defending their own cause. But often, either with deliberation or due to emotion they slip into abuse, unfounded accusation and libel. This is stupid not only because it is wrong but also because it gives cause to the policing authorities to sweep in and round up who-ever they please. Whether the police understand the issue becomes immaterial. Their action has been given cause by those who mis-used their freedom. And the defense of those who justly spoke up is also immaterial - they are swept away along with the foolish abusers.
It is tragic to see how we undermine our own freedoms.
Speak with conviction, speak for the truth, speak without fear. But do not give them a chance who would seek to silence you.
Speak well, speak wisely, but not just loudly. For noise is of no value to the wise, and does not each the foolish.
Speak to be heard, not to hurt. The hurt react with anger, not with understanding.
Speak with many voices, speak as one. But let the cause not become a cult.
Speak to build, speak to foster the change you seek. Speak to retain your freedom to speak. Let your speech not become the cause of its own destruction.
|An Israeli court has ruled that the state was not at fault for the death of American activist Rachel Corrie in 2003.|
Her parents have accused the Israeli military of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter and have spent almost 10 years and more than $200,000 pushing for an admission of responsibility.
But after a civil case that lasted more than three years, an Israeli district court judge said Corrie's death was a "regrettable accident" and that she had been protecting terrorists in a designated combat zone.
The Corrie family's lawyer has said that they will appeal against the ruling to Israel's Supreme Court and Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother, said of the verdict: "I believe that this was a bad day not only for our family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and also for the country of Israel."
To answer these questions Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center, an advocacy centre for Arab citizens in Israel; Rami Khouri, an editor-at-large for Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper, the director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and a professor at the American University of Beirut; and Efraim Inbar, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and a former paratrooper in the Israeli army.
Other attempts to bring legal action against the Israeli military: