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Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
March 3rd, 2002
04:30 pm


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On Death and Moose
Ten Israelis (humans), three of them civilians, were killed this morning in the occupied territories by Palestinians (humans). Last night, a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem killed nine Israeli civilians (humans), including one whole family. An Israeli police officer (human) was killed near Bethlehem yesterday, too.

Twenty human lives were lost on the Israeli side in less than twenty-four hours. This is perhaps bloodier than other days, but differs only in quantity from other days.

I don't know the names of those people, nor will I know them, because they will be washed away by news of the deaths of people now living who will be dead by the end of the week.

With all my heart, I envy the people living in Maine, who are contending with difficulties such as this.

The point is not that I think they are carefree, happy people. I don't seriously suggest that the above is their biggest concern. But the fact it is an issue at all indicates what a solid basis of personal security and political stability they enjoy. And that, from my point of view, is enviable.

Current Mood: numb
Current Music: Story of Isaac - Leonard Cohen

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:March 3rd, 2002 01:21 pm (UTC)

At Quaker meeting today I found it hard not to cry

for the 40 or so people who died in Israel/Palestine over the last couple of days. I could have cried, it would have been accepted and understood.

But now, when I'm home, I'm crying. because half of them are invisible to the other half.

There were children dying, Ijon. Babies. Kids who went outside to help their parents, babes born just hours or months ago. Moms dead with babes in their arms. ON BOTH SIDES.

When you count the bodies by faith, aren't you cheapening the humanity of every victim? No children should die or be maimed in a war. No matter what their religion, ethnic background, and family allegience.

FWIW, here in my little piece of paradise, which is even further away from where you are than Maine is, there are weekly vigils in support of various peace efforts, and people donate time, money, and effort to try and resolve the situation. But here, they count all the dead, and they don't color-code them by ethnic derivation.

In tears.

(who finds the ethnocentric view of the war)
(to be at the root of its continuation)
[User Picture]
Date:March 12th, 2002 08:27 am (UTC)

Part 1

note: due to LiveJournal comment length limitations, I am splitting my reply into two comments.

>But now, when I'm home, I'm crying. because half of them are invisible to the other half.

That's not true. Many Israelis realize and regret the deaths of Palestinians in this conflict. Since I have no first-hand contact with Palestinians, I can only assume, as well as rely on the media, that there are many Palestinians who regret Israeli deaths too.

There are groups on both sides (and attempting to ignore the division into sides is like pretending there is no conflict) who wish the other group dead, or at least powerless and reduced to the state of refugees. In fact, following the atrocities committed in the occupied territories, the media reported of polls among Palestinians indicating 95 per cent of that population supports terror attacks against Israeli civilians. I'm not surprised. I understand how these terrible, murderous opinions are formed. I can't honestly say that were I a Palestinian today, I would not act violently to defeat the Israeli occupation.

The point is that there is a lot of justified anger on both sides, as well as a lot of justified despair. Each side suffers from the lack of a solid democracy, the lack of responsible leadership, and fundamentalist religion.

This despair led me to write the message you have responded to, expressing my inability to even keep up with the names of the dead on the Israeli side, not to mention the Palestinian side. Not mentioning the Palestinian side does not mean that I deny the fact that many Palestinians were killed, nor that I do not care about their deaths. However, I regret to say that unlike you, I find that I'm unable to shed tears for these dead, neither Israelis nor Palestinians. I just can't feel shocked and sad at such inevitable results of the disastrous decisions both sides make; outraged, certainly; desparate, even; but not shocked. I wrote this entry to try to force these deaths to mean more than statistics for me.

>There were children dying, Ijon. Babies. Kids who went outside to help their parents, babes born just hours or months ago. Moms dead with babes in their arms. ON BOTH SIDES.

Yes, there were. Again, my mentioning the Israeli dead count does not mean I don't realize children and mothers do not get killed on the Palestinian side.

>When you count the bodies by faith, aren't you cheapening the humanity of every victim?

No. When you twist my words and put up a strawman to attack, aren't you being intellectually dishonest, or at the very least rude?

And I counted the bodies (in this particular instance) by nationality, not faith. You stuck your prejudices about my position onto my words, unjustly.

> No children should die or be maimed in a war. No matter what their religion, ethnic background, and family allegience.

I agree. (except that it's spelt allegiance)

-->continued in part 2, below.
[User Picture]
Date:March 12th, 2002 08:33 am (UTC)

Part 2

continued from part 1, above

> FWIW, here in my little piece of paradise, which is even further away from where you are than Maine is, there are weekly vigils in support of various peace efforts, and people donate time, money, and effort to try and resolve the situation. But here, they count all the dead, and they don't color-code them by ethnic derivation.

Again, distinguishing between Israeli casualties and Palestinian casualties does not necessarily mean their deaths are deemed of unequal import or injustice.

I don't know what else to say; you have simply (chosen to?) misread my statement and responded to a value-judgement I did not make.

As for vigils in Port Townsend, it's a laudable effort, but do you think it is at all useful? Does it at all affect the situation? Does it save even one life?

>In tears.

>(who finds the ethnocentric view of the war)
>(to be at the root of its continuation)

Well, that may be, but I don't think ethnocentricism is going to go away any time soon. So we can either wring our hands and say "let's all be brothers and forget about ethnoi and nationalities" until everybody listens, or we can take different, more pragmatic steps, to cease bloodshed in this cursed land.

I happen to think what is at the root of the current bloodshed (as distinct from the root of the general Jewish/Israeli<-->Arab hostility) is the illegal and immoral settlement of the occupied territories by Israeli citizens. I think the primary reason people still die all around me is that no more than 20,000 Israelis are refusing and actively sabotaging any and all peace initiatives that include an evacuation of said settlements from the OT. These people, by their actions, are the fuel for the terrorists who have killed six Israelis today, and will kill more by the end of the week, and still more next week.

I happen to think that the so-called "settlers" will never evacuate peacefully, and that consequently Israeli cannot relinquish its control of the OT without going into civil war. I further think that this must happen before Israel can try to rebuild all that has been destroyed and poisoned by its occupation of another people.

And I don't need tears to make my point.
[User Picture]
Date:March 3rd, 2002 02:42 pm (UTC)
I cannot feel the pain of the victims and their families. I believe it's too massive.
But I contemplate it, and I understand is as BEING massive.

Thank you, Ijon. It's important that I, in my safe state of security and moose, recognize that there are people whose reality is far more perilous.

We're all connected by our humanity. Things like this don't just end lives; they pose an insult to our connection, threatening to destroy that bond.

Again, thank you
[User Picture]
Date:March 4th, 2002 09:05 pm (UTC)

Envy? Not I, not here/now.

Ijon, I believe -- and it's a focused belief, not a background faith -- that we're here (those of us who are, that is) for a reason/purpose. You initially by birth, and staying; me initially by choice, and staying. As opposed to the people in Maine (whom I don't know, of course, but suppose more by birth than choice if I understand basic demographics, and if so, why not to stay?), whose "personal security and political stability" you cite with envy. And we may as well include Dena, manifestly enjoying and touting her chosen little-piece-of-paradise.

The “solid” base for their apparent well-being seems stable because it’s broad, but not deep; see how easily it’s scratched. Don't forget that their envied-personal-security ends when their neighbor goes psychotic/sociopathic or just gets up in a bad mood with a gun handy. Likewise, I'd cite evidence that their vaunted- political-stability is founded on a vastly exploitative (of Earth/human resources) and corrupt economic system which ultimately can give pleasure only to those who ignore the moral/ethical implications therein. (My brother contemplates buying a lovely hand-tied carpet, tied by should-we-cares-whose deft little fingers. So her meager wages keep the child alive to live as though a slave? Where’s the beauty in that?)

We who live in Israel have plenty to do here. This remains true, the same as I was told some twenty years ago when I first set in motion the plan to come here: life here is harder but better [than in the USA, in my case]. That seems fair to me, but anyway, I made my choice on principle, because I was given this life as a Jew (as, for all that I know, all my ancestors, all those who contributed their genetic material to make mine, were Jews, FWIW).

Thus I happen to have decided to link my fate with this country’s and people’s – perhaps in a very fatalistic way, but I do believe I’m no better than they. Nor am I any more or less deserving of life than those who were killed off for being Jews in the past, whether more or less true-Jew than I but killed nonetheless – or those who have died for being in the wrong place at the wrong time: namely, soldiers or civilians, but casualties of wars, all throughout the sorry human history.

And let’s not forget: not all casualties are fatalities. There are those who live on, who are wounded, recover, survive. But perhaps if/when it really is war, anyone not wounded in some way was not really there, or alive or human in the first place. How we heal, how we scar, how we live on – that is who we are forever after.

I abhor violence in all its forms. I have never seen it as a fit means for humans to resolve their differences. But I can’t be a pacifist in Israel so long as I must agree to defend myself/my family against real threats to life and limb. Yet I don’t want to be a combatant. So I stay awake, and write, and write, and think some more, and write or am silent. This is what I have to say tonight.

Date:March 4th, 2002 09:35 pm (UTC)

Israeli arrogance makes you belittle life elsewhere

That you think people in Maine (or indeed, in my piece of paradise) have nothing to do in the world is -- somewhat pathetic, really. In Israel, only Israel matters. Where I am, there are other concenrs beyond the tips of our noses. There is more to life than being Jewish (or non-Jewish, or any other affiliation, religious or civic).

There is no need to belittle my homeland in order to build up your adopted one.

And there is no need for the continued violence, nor for the ethnoncentric reporting of it. More than 70 people have been killed since last Friday, nearly 500 were wounded. Many of these were children. Is this a good time to start checking up on their genetics? It is a good time to change the system that's making all that death necessary!

Every day that passes without the strong and opinionate proponents of a viable way of life doing EVERYTHING in their power to change the situation is a day wasted.

I'm doing my part (from here, in support of what I believe) -- belittling my efforts reflects what about you?

(And as to your brothers' rug... ...let's not go to where one has to, do discuss that.)
[User Picture]
Date:March 5th, 2002 07:30 pm (UTC)

For Somebody to read, with care.

Somebody, it seems, is not a careful enough reader, so I must be a more careful writer.

My previous comment was clearly enough addressed to Ijon. I wrote a statement about myself, as he had about himself, two Israelis of Jewish origin/education confronting the current events in Israel. As so many of us are: reacting, questioning, thinking and feeling. Wondering aloud, discussing among ourselves; trying right now to make sense of the senseless, weighing alternatives for praxis.

I am saying nothing _to anybody_ other than my fellow Jews in Israel. I say: we, here and now, must confront ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. This responsibility of ours is twofold: not to be victims and not to be oppressors. These are urgent, vital matters with which we are dealing – despite our incompetence and repeated failures, we need desperately to find and implement solutions, to choose life and make peace.

Somebody in the USA may well share these and/or other issues and concerns -- I do understand and appreciate that. And I myself know very well about other concerns, some of which being even now my own daily or occasional dealings, and I dearly look forward to get back to them full-time once the crisis has passed.

However, this is a crisis, and it's hard (and wrong!) to ignore. This is the position from which I'm thinking and writing; I'm so sorry Somebody somehow missed understanding this, because we evidently do agree. I am only too pleased to know that Somebody or anybody-at-all shares my beliefs and backs this with (positive, non-violent) action. Would that everybody did! But that is for each to decide; I can only decide for myself and only discuss this in kind with those who share my choices and my fate.

Ijon and anyone who knows me, knows I believe in the rights and aspirations of Jews and Arabs alike, and that I am looking mightily for ways I can make this belief a reality. Living and working in the Western Galilee is part of the ways and means, as is communication: talking with my neighbors and writing on public e-forums.

However, I do have a certain right to diss the USA (which is surely too big to be somehow belittled?). Simply put, the USA is indeed my homeland, as Israel (for all the rhetoric) is really not. I was born in the USA, as were my parents and both grandmothers. I was raised there, educated (16+ years) in its public schools, lived there till age 30. Long enough to know it and yes, to personally reject it. What I wrote about it is obviously not all there is to the USA, but it _is_ true to some extent – and led me to choose to live elsewhere/differently, and to raise my own children elsewhere/differently.

The comment I wrote came out in the form of a manifesto, written -- as it turned out -- during an all-night vigil of my own, wrestling with my own spirit/soul and preparing a statement. I’ve found that my choice of living in Israel rather than the USA is based on my belief (evidently one of the few I truly hold) than being a Jew means not living in any paradise on earth. In this life I'm destined to be a human among humans, in this place, at this time. I consider this a personal matter (and a commitment), but one I’ve chosen to voice and share, here, now. Because I think it just might help achieve the ultimate goal, of peace. And that can't come any too soon.
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2002 07:08 am (UTC)

Re: For Somebody to read, with care.

Hello Deborah. Right off the bat - you write beautifully. I wish I could express myself in such prose.

And yes, this is cushioning for what I'm asking now -
what are you trying to say?

I live in Israel. I'm a Jew. I even have some thoughts on almost every issue you mentioned. But I just couldn't understand - is all that you wrote only a means of saying that you choose to stay in Israel and that you're proud of it? Or that killing is bad?

I don't mean to sound agressive, and certainly don't aim to insult. Perhaps I'm just a bad reader - but what is (are) your point(s)?
[User Picture]
Date:March 16th, 2002 01:22 pm (UTC)

Re: For Somebody to read, with care.

Adam, my comments were oriented entirely toward the texts of the preceeding comments by Ijon and Dena. I'd hope that referring back to them, you'll see the source of the points I tried to make. Rather than reiterate myself here, I'll wait to hear from you again, perhaps with more specific questions/comments of your own for me.

I was cheered to read that you consider I express myself in beautiful prose, but my writing's not worth all that much after all, if not understood... I _would_ like you to know what I'm trying to say (as you put it).

What I did say, certainly: the matter of "choosing" was contrasted with Ijon and Dena who did not initially choose to live in Israel, having arrived as children at their parents' behest.

The choice I myself initially made was to affiliate and identify with the Jewish people; living in Israel followed in due course (as the only place I felt I could do so meaningfully as I'm not religiously-observant). "Pride" is not a concept to which I relate; more like "obligation." I'd like to say "integrity" but that's a problematic term (though not one I've abandoned).

Killing is bad, wrong, vile, terrible and many other negative qualities. I would dispense with it and all violence, but we know that can't be unilateral. Very problematic and dangerous stuff.

I've had to take time out these past few days because the situation on the ground here, in my own beloved Western Galilee, has taken a dreadful turn. I have to do more thinking, reading and talking things over, before writing more/again.
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