Sunday, July 30, 2006

we've lost track of "never again"

Jessie at Speermint has posted an editorial from Ha'aretz that does a much better job of articulating why Israel's war on Lebanon is a travesty than I can.

I can't argue that the conflict is too abstract for me to get a handle on. I'm having exactly the opposite problem, really: even if I don't understand or accept Israel's rationale, on a visceral level I know exactly what's going on. We're seeing sixty-plus years of paranoia and frustration boiling over. And I get that. But bombing civilians won't bring back all the family we lost in the old country, and it won't make us safer in the new--whether the new is Israel or the U.S.

I have a slightly different relationship to the phrase never again than I think many Jews do. For many, the phrase means, never again will we let ourselves be taken off to the camps. For me, it means that we have a sacred obligation, now that we have as a people seen the face of true horror, to not let it happen to anyone else if there is any way we can stop it. How wretched then that not only are we not standing in the way of indiscriminate murder, but it is our hands on the levers.

I doubt I'm the only American Jew who is filled with shame by this whole thing. Neither am I the only one who has kept quiet for an unconscionably long time. I'm finding that it's easy and seductive to say, well, I don't know everything that's going on, surely there's a side to this I'm not seeing, and that side makes all the difference.

But it doesn't. What side can there be that justifies these casualties? Even before Israel apparently targeted UN observers? And then hit those poor people in Qana by mistake? The airport, the banks, hospitals--it's like trying to flush out a rat by destroying the whole house. I understand that Israel doesn't have the classic hard targets to aim for, bunkers, military airstrips, and so on, but surely there is another way!

I want to believe the loss of our six million taught us better than this.