Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gaza war, at ceasefire

Christopher Godfree-Morrell wrote this email to me, 1/11/09:

I've written, re-written and deleted several comments to your recent posts. In the end I've decided to send you this email. This too has been edited repeatedly, so it might lose some coherence.

I understand that as a Jew your defense of Israel is more than just politics, just as a Muslim's view on Hamas would be similarly clouded, but I would urge you to see past these prejudices to what is actually happening.

This might be a position that will make no sense to you, I feel like I'm trying to covince people to not react with violence to the people that raped and killed their mother. Because this seems to be the level of emotion attached to the situation by all sides. I'm sure that you would normally see the futility of war, that peace can never be achieve by killing. But this isn't about reason is it?

In the end all I want to say to you is that, although I can understand your position can't you see it's madness?

Christopher Godfree-Morrell
god-free morals

And I responded, 1/18/09:

Thanks for all the editing you must have done, to write such a sensitive email that was not caught up in the withering tension and, as you said, madness that possessed so many people, including me. Yes it is madness and it causes me great sorrow, bitterness, exhaustion.

May I say only this: you cannot imagine what it feels like to be so profoundly hated and vilified and demonized, so falsely and hypocritically, by so many people. We are begrudged the most piss-assed little piece of largely useless property in the world. A not insubstantial percentage of Muslims deny our very right to exist, and a not insubstantial percentage of Christians would not be upset if Israel were wiped off the map. What then are we to do, to make our neighbors understand that there is no future in war? Where do you begin a conversation with someone who denies your right to exist?

This world is a nasty place, and I fear it will not get any better in the near future. My guts have been twisted up inside, and for many days I felt like my head and body were literally going to explode, as I struggled with all my might against this onslaught of world hatred that is trying to break the spirit of the Jewish people. That's how I see it and experience it.

Chris, the world is not turning its hatred towards you, demanding with cynical and ulterior motives that you turn the other cheek to those who would murder you if they could. Therefore you can't imagine our sense of precariousness in the world, that there is almost no one that we can rely on. Therefore you will not understand or accurately assess our strength, our faith, our assertion of a right, nay a necessity to exist. A future generation will look back on this period and see an appalling picture of Europe and of the Muslim world, a picture not much more attractive than what you might see looking back on the nazi era.

If the Arab world did to Israel what Israel did to the Gazans, you would see vast, Dionysian-like celebration. I urge you to watch Israel closely, and see if you see any celebration at all. Let us watch together, you and me. This I already know: we are profoundly thankful that so few of our soldiers died, but beyond that, I predict: there will be no candy thrown, no vast parades glorifying our military might, no feasts and parties all night long in the streets. We will reflect on what we've done, its cruelty and its necessity. We will debate our tactics and our use of force. We will argue about what our goals were, and whether we achieved them. And we will be profoundly disheartened by a world that appears to value neither truth nor compassion. We too lacked compassion, and we will grieve long over that. Let us see if I'm wrong.

With great thanks to you for your kindness, for your concern, for your tactfulness. With your permission, I will post your email, and my response on my blog.

He responded, 1/20/09:

I'd just say that I am not ALL of Britain and its history. If you feel such a direct connection to the lives and politics of Israel then it is this I cannot understand, not how one would fight to survive (as you see it). This I can understand.

(real) Peace

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