Our tradition is amazing. After all that Joseph had done for Pharaoh and
After the official Seminar was over, I remained in
Izzeldin Abuelaish was born and raised in
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish details the deprivations, problems, and hopelessness of the average Gazan in his book. Tragedy struck his family during the Operation Cast Lead in 2009 when
Dr. Abuelaish does not hate and still speaks out for peace and reconciliation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. His words are worth reading and actualizing.
Revenge was on the lips and in the minds of most people I talked to in the days after my daughters and niece were killed…We struggled together, my children and I, and I tried to respond to the chorus of people calling for Israeli blood to atone the deaths of my girls. One said, “Don’t you hate the Israelis?” Which Israelis am I supposed to hate? I replied. The doctors and the nurses I work with? The ones trying to save Ghaida’s life and Shatha’s eyesight? The babies I have delivered? Families like the Madmoonys (Israelis) who gave me work and shelter when I was a kid?
Still, the cries for reprisals didn’t stop. What about the soldier who fired the deadly volleys from the tank? Didn’t I hate him? But that’s how the system works here: we use hatred and blame to avoid the reality that eventually we need to come together. As for the soldier who shelled my house, I believe that in his conscience he has already punished himself, that he is asking himself, “What have I done?” And even if he doesn’t think that now, tomorrow he will be a father. He will suffer for his actions when he sees how precious is the life of his child.
To those who seek retaliation, I say, even if I got revenge on all the Israeli people, would it bring my daughters back? Hatred is an illness. It prevents healing and peace. (page 187-8)
That’s how things happen in the
Middle East – the size of the rhetoric trumps the facts on the ground. In my experience, the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians were horrified by the terrifying events of the three week war. The reaction of ordinary people strengthens the case for our need to talk to each other, to listen to act. And it reinforces my lifelong belief that out of bad comes something good. Maybe now I really have to believe that; the alternative is too dark to consider. My three precious daughters and my niece are dead. Revenge, a disorder that is epidemic in the Middle East, won’t get them back for me. It is important to feel anger in the wake of events like this; anger that signals that you do not accept what has happened, that spurs you to make a difference. But you have to choose not to spiral into hate. All the desire for revenge and hatred does is to drive away wisdom, increase sorrow, and prolong strife. The potential good that could come out of this soul-searing bad is that together we might bridge the fractious divide that has kept us apart for six decades.
The catastrophe of the deaths of my daughters and niece has strengthened my thinking, deepened my belief about how to bridge the divide. I understand down to my bones that violence is futile. It is a waste of time, lives, and resources, and has been proven only to beget more violence. It does not work. It just perpetuates a vicious cycle. There’s only one way to bridge the divide, to live together, to realize the goals of two people: we have to find the light to guide us to our goal. I’m not talking about the light of religious faith here, but light as a symbol of truth. The light that allows you to see, to clear away the fog – to find wisdom. To find the light of truth, you have to talk to, listen to, and respect each other. Instead of wasting energy on hatred, use it to open your eyes and see what’s really going on. Surely, if we can see the truth, we can live side by side.
I am a physician, and as a consequence I see thinks most clearly in medical terms. I am arguing that we need an immunization program, one that injects people with respect, dignity, and equality, one that inoculates them against hatred. (195)
Recently, Rabbi David Wise taught me that the Hebrew word for
Revenge (Nekamah) is only one letter away from the Hebrew word Comfort (Nechamah). Today is Yizkor and we gain a sense of comfort as we remember our dearly departed. Similarly, may the Jewish people and the Palestinian people choose Nechamah over Nekamah so that peace may envelope us all.