Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wrong Direction

According to an article in the New York Times, there is a settler movement in the territories (Judea & Samaria/West Bank) that Israel took over in the 1967 war which is growing more violent.

Instead of reaching out to their neighbors and forging friendships that will help them build a future together, some Israeli settlers are amping up the violence. The Israeli leadership and army should combat this as a matter of preserving democracy inside Israel and establishing future peace with Palestinian neighbors. Allowing vigilantism in territories that it occupies erodes Israel's standing in the community of nations. Gratifyingly, there have been arrests.

There is horrific hatred and violence on both sides of this relationship, but allowing vigilante brutality of other people is not the answer, unless it's mutual assured destruction. It comes down to individual choices and what people want for the future.

This is not an entirely new cycle. I remember reading in 1984 about Rabbi Levinger, an American who had settled near Hebron in the disputed territories; he was always armed and called for violence against Palestinians. It's not surprising that ideolgical descendants have morphed into this current extreme faction.

Meanwhile there are Israelis, that have lost loved ones to the violence, who have reached out to Palestinians who find themselves in a similar circumstance to form coalitions for a peaceful future. While difficult this is a saner choice. And most Israelis and Palestinians want peace.

Fortunately and not, individuals have a real impact in the world. We must decide what we want our individual and collective legacy to be. Personally, I am for democracy. I am for respecting others and myself. Despite our differences we are all related. Yes, we must protect our loved ones from the violent actions of others, but we must acknowledge the enemy resides within ourselves when we succumb to blind rage and lash out at innocents around us. I'm sure that psychologists have a better angle on this, and I remain hopeful.

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