09 March 2008

This is very sad

Dr C and I have our differences. Amongst other things, we have our differences on the rights and wrongs, and the distribution of culpability, in the sorry sixty year saga of Isra'eli/Palestinian conflict. But never, however much we disagree, do I ever doubt that the Dr is a thoughtful, sincere, honest, compassionate, humane person. I know him to be a man with his heart in the right place, a man who is on the side of ... no, I won't say "the angels"; far more precious than that, he is on the side of human beings.

That knowledge, that commonalty of concern for human wellbeing, is far more important than any intellectual or moral disagreement could ever be.

In Friday's post This is very sad, we are in agreement as well as in tune. The killing of students in an Isra'eli seminary which advocates building on Palestinian land is no more justified, and just as destructive of potential peace, as killing Palestinian civilians who live under a Hamas government hostile to the existence of Isra'el.

Both sides are only able to continue this costly and atrocious attrition because outsiders subsidise and encourage it in various ways. But both sides also depend on hatreds to fuel the expenditure of those subsidies. Hatred is a potent poison; it takes only one individual to start infecting (apologies to Dr C's medical sensibilities for the mixed metaphor there) many others. Every time group A kills a civilian in group B, whatever the reason, it creates a whole raft of new Group B enemies from the family and friends of the dead.

It's distressing, therefore, to see unreasoning hatred rolled out by a commenter to the above post: "You are wrong ... ... ... kill them all!!!!!!".

Even more distressing, however, and worrying, is to note my own reaction: a rising feeling of rage in response, a wish to crush. I'm obviously not so very different, under my urbane skin, from the author of the comment. A lesson to be learned by us all - but, first and foremost, by myself. War crimes (the subject of my last sanctimonious homily, here) are born of exactly this.

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