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Living Through Conflict, Living Together

November 27, 2012 – 12:18 pm37 Comments

On Wednesday, on the seventh day of Operation Pillar of Cloud, I attended the main parents’ association meeting of the Bilingual Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem, where Arab and Jewish students learn side by side, speaking both Hebrew and Arabic-and I was moved to tears. I am already very connected to parents there as well as the principals (there are two – one Jewish one Arab.) We speak often and get along very well, and just being there all of us together in the one room was already a profound contrast to what was going on outside.

There were some parents there who wanted the school to issue a public statement condemning the killing on both sides, and there were parents who thought that there was no need to make such political statements for ultimately what is really important is that day after day we live together, and our children study together and we meet after school, and so in some small way we are somehow influencing reality.

I found myself thinking how amazing it was that before I came to the school I didn’t really know any Arabs, and now there are many people I feel very close to, and to their children and that I would protect them with my body if someone tried to harm them. Then one Arab woman whom I am especially close to (all our children are in the same classes and we go walking every Sunday night together) said that she doesn’t really care what happens here – one state or two – only that her children will be able to speak Arabic in the center of the city without being afraid that someone will harm them, and more generally that they will be able to speak Arabic anywhere in the country with pride and without fear.

When she said these things I had goose-bumps and thought how terrible for a mother to be afraid like that for her children just because of their ethnicity, and this of course reminded me of other times when Jewish mothers were frightened for their children because of their background. I don’t know enough to say who is right and whether we were justified in launching this operation, but I hope that the way we are living together at the school will somehow radiate and impact on reality outside the school, and mostly that precious lives on both sides will not be lost.

Merav Carmeli,
Jerusalem.

Merav, along with her partner Nathan and three young children, moved to Jerusalem from Melbourne late last year. Prior to moving to Jerusalem, both Merav and Nathan were teaching at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University.

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  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “There were some parents there who wanted the school to issue a public statement condemning the killing on both sides”

    These are people with a warped sense of morality. It’s amazing how many people (particularly Jewish people) are unable to distinguish between right & wrong. Moral relativism is at the root of all evil & a cancer that plagues the West and the Jewish people.

    “only that her children will be able to speak Arabic in the center of the city without being afraid that someone will harm them, and more generally that they will be able to speak Arabic anywhere in the country with pride and without fear….When she said these things I had goose-bumps and thought how terrible for a mother to be afraid like that for her children just because of their ethnicity”

    It’s ironic that you mentioned this, because attacks against Jews in Israel are much higher than Arabs. A Jew can’t travel to Gaza and most areas in the West Bank for the simple fact that they will be killed while most Arabs don’t have that problem…irony indeed.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    One must approach noble souls gently and humbly.
    I would only dare suggesting that, to ballance the incomplete logic of the message above, I would like to see Ivrit spoken freely among Arab majority places , such as Ramallah, down town Hebron and, why not Gaza, because, as it happens, some 20% of the fully fledged Israel population lead a life in full Arabic idioms, language, religious practice, business, schools, access to universities – founded and funded by Jews -, so half of that great dream is right there in Israel.
    I would cry of real(istic) happiness when Arabs, call them even Palestinians, will accept Jews in their midst , but not in order to lynch them !

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Merav if you’re reading this, thanks for sharing your experiences. It is humbling to hear this perspective from somebody who is living through this .

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    I would also like to add that, just in case “soemone” feels compelled to jump juts like that out of nowhere and have a go at my previous posting and accuse me of “thoughtless naivity, luke warm nonsense etc.” and exclaim in addressing Merav and Mandi ( M&M) :

    ” Escuse me, authors of cute naivete, howz about you tell your Arab friends, after wiping off yr tears of concern for Arab children suffering at the hands of the Zionists, to convey to their extended families beyond the political/ethnic/religious divide, that the famous adage ” Peace shall occur when Arab parents will love their children more ( and instead of ) than hating the Jews – and, in the process, educate them as human beings not human explosives !!” is more than compulsory if, indeed, any modicum of peace could be contemplated.”

    that “someone” would be ABSOLUTELY RIGHT !!!

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    It is not moral relativism to issue a statement condemning the killing of people of both sides of a conflict, especially if they are civilians. That is called compassion and common humanity.

    That being said, the piece is a personal comment from someone over there and should be viewed as such – a personal point of view, certainly not an influential argument and/or analysis.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “It is not moral relativism to issue a statement condemning the killing of people of both sides of a conflict, especially if they are civilians. That is called compassion and common humanity.”

    By condeming the killing on “both sides” you are equating Israel to Hamas. That’s moral relativism @ its very worst.

    Are you also going to condemn the killing on “both sides” during World War 2 – i.e. Holocaust victims and the German casualties of the Dresden bombings…as many Nazi sympathisers like to do?

    “That being said, the piece is a personal comment from someone over there and should be viewed as such – a personal point of view, certainly not an influential argument and/or analysis.”

    So in that case Galus should close all comments for this article. Personal comments on a pulblic forum should be beyond any critique…

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    Nice touch with the WW2 analogy and insinuation – totally irrelevant and offensive to boot.

    Have you no shame and is your argument so weak that you have to drag out the victims of the Shoah to bolster your credibility in a discussion?

    Btw, one is not equating Israel to Hamas by condemning the killing on both sides. Are you suggesting that anyone who objects to violence for whatever reason and expresses that out of context i.e. a pacifist, is a moral relativist? Bizarre.

    The fact is that an equation would be when one suggested that the blame for the killings was equally apportioned, or the causes where justified for all parties to a conflict – not objecting to people being killed as a general statement.

    I also don’t agree with your trite comment about personal comments etc – Aside from it being petulant, I think that you have massively overreacted to one person’s personal point of view and are constructing things out of what is unsaid, rather than the content itself.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “Btw, one is not equating Israel to Hamas by condemning the killing on both sides.? ”

    So what exactly are you doing?

    “…not objecting to people being killed as a general statement.”

    …oh fair enough. great logic. are you now going to make a ‘general statement’ condemning the killing of “both sides” during World War 2?

    “also don’t agree with your trite comment about personal comments etc – Aside from it being petulant, I think that you have massively overreacted to one person’s personal point of view and are constructing things out of what is unsaid, rather than the content itself.”

    I apologise if views contrary to your own are offensive.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    Going down the rabbit hole after you – some could consider that you are equating the Second World War with the conflict in Gaza this month by consistently raising the example. That strikes me as a little bit of relativism.

    It also gives me a fair idea about your sense (or rather lack of) of proportion in considering topics – enough said on this.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Hamas aims to wipe out all the jews – it’s stated in the Hamas charter. They only target civilians. Sounds familiar? If that’s what you call moral relativism, fine…

    if you want to condemn all voilence, then that’s fair enough… why can’t you bring yourself to condemn the killings on both sides in world war 2? Let’s also condemn the 9/11 attacks, the Bali bombings and the subsequent US drone attacks on targets in Yemen and Afghanistan. Where is this all leading to?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    I will not defend Hamas which is an odious terrorist group, nor their Charter which contains material both wicked and foolish.

    I will however suggest that comparing Hamas to the 3rd Reich in any serious/meaningful way is daft. Loose comparisons are even more daft.

    Btw, I do condemn all of the killings in wars etc – these are all unnecessary acts that are a testament to mankind’s failings. I do not however ascribe the same level of responsibility and culpability to every instance of killing – nor does the law btw.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    You’ve just acknowlegded that Hamas has the aim to exterminate the Jews and then state that any comparison to the third reich is daft and a loose comparison. How so?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    I didn’t state that Hamas aim to exterminate the Jews – that is what you are claiming.

    I will not defend them or their Charter but I don’t necessarily agree that the Charter explicitly calls for extermination of Jews as simply stated by yourself.

    It is certainly a document that calls for cultural genocide (eg. destruction of Jewish self-determination in the form of Israel) through violence but it is also contradictory in that it also refers to Jews living under Islamic rule in their desired territory.

    I find this odious and foolish and indefensible.

    I’m not even sure where to begin about the problems about the comparison.

    Perhaps noting that Hamas is a two-bit religious-terrorist thugocracy exercising power in the Gaza strip and whose military capabilities are utilising unguided rockets/missiles/mortars against civilians (war crimes) and other assorted terrorist attacks while the 3rd Reich was an advanced industrial and international power that was able to engage in prolonged armed warfare against Great Britain and the Commonwealth, the USSR, the US, France, Poland, Greece, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Yugoslavia…

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Article Seven of the Hamas charter states –

    “The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).”

    My “claim?” or simple fact?

    Going back to the “condemning deaths on both sides” statement – irrespective of what your personal intention is, the statement on it’s own implies a moral equivalence. Otherwise, perhaps the parents from the school who wanted to issue such a statement should have taken on baord your advice and issued the following disclaimer – “we do condemn all of the killings in wars etc – these are all unnecessary acts that are a testament to mankind’s failings. we do not however ascribe the same level of responsibility and culpability to every instance of killing – nor does the law btw.”

    That clarification would have won the support of the other parents of the school who criticised the “both sides statements” as political…

    “Hamas is a two-bit religious-terrorist thugocracy…military capabilities are utilising unguided rockets/missiles/mortars against civilians”

    not with the backing of a nuclear armed Iran and other key internaitonal actors.

    That aside – are you really comfortable condemning the killing of both sides in world war 2?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    The Hamas Charter says many things which are offensive, strange and foolish eg. Article 22 which blames Jewish conspiracies for Rotary.

    It also says things that are contradictory eg. Article 31 which refers to minorities living under Islamic rule, including Jews (which would be difficult if they were all killed).

    I’m not sure how seriously you should utilise a document which refers to the gharkad tree hiding Jews as the definitive, be all end all, document of practice for Hamas.

    This is of course not to defend them as they are a repugnant terrorist outfit.

    And their military capabilities have been exactly what I stated irrespective of Iran etc.

    I am really comfortable condemning the killing of anyone when it is done unnecessarily eg. in wars. I have almost no sympathy for the Nazis’ losses because they were objectively worse by any criteria.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “I’m not sure how seriously you should utilise a document which refers to the gharkad tree hiding Jews as the definitive, be all end all, document of practice for Hamas.”

    No, not to be taken seriously at all, especially when they shoot rockets at jewish schools, homes, hospitals etc.

    “I have almost no sympathy for the Nazis’ losses because they were objectively worse by any criteria.”

    So you have no symptahy for the mass civilian loss of life in the city of Dresden and the “both sides” argument doesn’t apply there?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    I should have written Nazi’s military losses. My apologies for that oversight.

    I’ve never said that the Hamas Charter is irrelevant. It is however simplistic to argue that that is the only criteria by which you can consider their actions aside from the political situation, historical context etc.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    You did refer to my mentioning that Hamas expressed it’s desire to exterminate Jews (in it’s charter) as a “claim.”

    The political situatoin and historical context – i.e. they shoot rockets @ civilians and blow up buses etc.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    do you mind if I call you, on this instance at least, Sad for short !!

    You write with apparent ease and considerable negligence.

    Within the context of any dialectics, such the ones carried out right here, under our fingertips, all manner of presented MORALITY, as advocated by the opposing parties is, by definition, ONLY relative. Punta e basta !! (It.)

    In general discourse appeal to known facts – some call it history – as a means of suportive analogue arguments is an accepted practice.Accuracy in the analogy if the only criterion acceptable.
    When studying the anti Semitism of the Third Reich “against” the known policies and practices of Hamas, similarities are sufficiently evident to allow for THE analogy, as Levi – the Russian with very articulate English – to be used. Your attempt to disallow Nazism analogue with Hamas in this respect is strange, considering that you have also contributed some (!!!) acceptable notions to Jewish ethical norms.
    I shall jump to the bombing of Dresden in March-April 1945.
    I visited first Dresden in 1992. Russian troops were still present.
    One of the most striking sites, smack in the very centre of Dresden were the ruins of a bombed formerly grand residence. The ruins were fenced, left there as they were in that march-April 1945. Around it Dresden was completely rebuilt. I looke t the “strange” site and, immediately I was overcome by the feeling of historic justice.
    The site symbolised the message to the German people not only the war that THEY waged against the rest of Europe ended up in inevitable disaster, ruins, but that they, the same Germans DESERVED IT !!! A symbolic reminder of that …crime and punishment.
    The very recent episode between Israel and Gaza was, at a much smaller scale precisely the same and I wish to remind all and sundry that EXACTLY the same message has been heralded by the Israelis, Bibi himself spelling it out endlessly before the cries of indiscriminate and disproportional killings well rehearsed by those whose RELATIVE MORALITY attempts to place them above the relative morality under which Israel is compelled to act.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    The problem with “condemning the killing on both sides” is that every civilian death caused by Israel represents a failure: they went to great lengths to minimise them and if their information and weapons were perfect there wouldn’t have been any. In contrast, Hamas was trying to kill civilians. Their weapons were aimed at civilian areas, and designed to kill as many people as possible.

    So when, e.g., the Red Cross asked “both sides” to take care to avoid civilian casualties it was a meaningless and false evenhandedness: it knew full well that Hamas would pay no attention to the request; they were really only addressing Israel. What was the point of it, seeing that Israel was in fact seeking to minimise civilian casualties? Perhaps it was just empty noise from an increasingly-irrelevant organisation; perhaps it was an attempt to earn kudos by implicitly criticising Israel. I don’t care which it was: mealy-mouthed platitudes like this deserve nothing but contempt.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Any equation or statement that implies an equation between the casualties of dresden to the casualties of the air raids of London or worse the victims of the holocaust…is repugnant. Gaza is no different.

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Levi – on the one hand you state “Moral relativism is at the root of all evil”

    On the other hand, you condemn the Nazis (and in other articles, the Communists) – whose philosophies were as contrary to moral relativism as it is possible to be.

    So if moral relativism is wrong and moral absolutism is wrong ….what actually do you believe in?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Sorry Levi. You are wrong.
    Analogy between Dresden and Gaza quite acceptable.
    Israel, Netanyahu quite specifically, warned that retalliations metted out to the aggressive Gazans were bound to end in serious damage. The punishment metted out by the RAF in Dresden was, at a much greater scale, the military retort and precise strategy that was meant to indicate that the Germans “asked” for it ( see the Gazans asking for retribution ) and also, strategically, the destruction of the Dresden cross-railway infrastructure of the retreating Wermacht ( see the strategic destruction of Hamas physical structures ). Both places riddled with ruins as results of retaliation, punishment. Look at the origin of punishment: Puni were the Cartagenians of Hanibal who raped Rome and, in return Rome ( Scipio) went in an expedition to “erase” into ruins the base of power of the Puni. Israelis were, as it happened some 2100 years later, much more surgical. That’s the only RELATIVE distinction. Relatively, morally all three were right.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “Look at the origin of punishment: Puni were the Cartagenians of Hanibal who raped Rome and, in return Rome ( Scipio) went in an expedition to “erase” into ruins the base of power of the Puni.”

    -Complete gobbledygook.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “Moral relativisim” is another form of moral absolutism. It’s used as a guise to imply that one side is actually in the wrong, as Joe in Australia pointed out with his Red Cross example. What I mentioned as “moral relativism” is really just pure moral inversion – that’s what moral relativism really comes down to. So when western academics, journalists and policy makers equate Stalinist or Nazi crimes to Western transgressions they are actually picking a side and justifying evil. Not only does Moral relativism (i.e. moral inversion) justify evil or at best ignore it, but it allows it to flourish.

  • Wolf says:

    Levi you are spot on, and I wish people reading this will think about what you have to say with an open mind (rather than as a fanatic left-winger!).

    I understand that this lady mentioned in the article is worried for her children’s sake, and I’ll even give her the benefit of the doubt to assume she finds Hamas’ tactics of aiming at civilians, utterly repugnant.

    However, actions speak louder than words, and her opinion is clearly not echoed in the arab populous of Gaza or westbank. I do feel sorry for her, as she’s in a terrible, unavoidable situation.

    The simple fact is though, like Levi was saying, there are worlds of difference between unintentionally killing civilians in wartime (Israel), and specifically targeting civilians a targets (Hamas).

  • TheSadducee says:

    Wolf

    Noone disagrees with your last point. The issue at hand was that you can condemn the killing on both sides (without going into the responsibility etc) because both sides are made up of our fellow human beings.

    Maybe I’m not making myself clear, or maybe I just don’t understand your and others’ lack of empathy for other people?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    As I’ve suggested earlier, perhaps you could forward that on as a disclaimer for the parents of that school to use or anyone else who wants to use the “both sides” argument, so that they won’t come up with any objections from anyone that what they are doing is “political.”

    after noting the parents intention to issue a “both sides” statement the author makes the following comment –

    “I don’t know enough to say who is right and whether we were justified in launching this operation”

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “…lack of empathy for other people?”

    strawman argument.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Levi

    So your demonstration of empathy could be this?

    “I condemn the killing of Israeli civilians killed by the war crimes of Hamas, however I cannot condemn the killing of the civilians of Gaza by the IDF because they were accidental and it was Hamas’ fault because they provoked the conflict and committed war crimes”

    You are a genuine bleeding heart.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “I condemn the killing of Israeli civilians killed by the war crimes of Hamas, however I cannot condemn the killing of the civilians of Gaza by the IDF because they were accidental and it was Hamas’ fault because they provoked the conflict and committed war crimes…”

    Yes.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t sympathise with the plight of innocent people (i.e. those who don’t support Hamas)…on the contrary I do.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Well I am reassured then. I just think we have been talking at cross purposes at this stage and do not seem to disagree so fundamentally in essence. It has been an enriching and interesting debate – thank you!

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Likewise, it’s been a pleasure :)

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    try another one !

    easy to pick a farcical name and go on with nonsense

    Conjugate the Latin verb “punio, punire” – to punish, avenge – and the actve present imperative is “puni” the name given by the Romans to the Cartagenians, who were punished in 146 by having Cartagena erased. Within our discussion abt analogies, Dresden was practically erased, just like Cartagena and that, in itself makes both perfect phonetic analogy sense as in “punishment” as well as analogue historic realities.
    My Latin and history knowledge would not allow me to say that “punio, punire,” has a locative ethymology in the Puni.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    That is interesting because the Romans used the word Punicos to refer to Carthaginians and not Puni.

    I’d refer you to Livy’s Ab Urbe Conditi Bk 21 which constantly refers to the Carthaginians in that way – perhaps you can point out where Puni is used?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    sad but true, it …looks like eggs splashed on you face suits you perfectly:

    1. Livy’s famous book, which I started reading at the age of ELEVEN is , “Ab Urbe ConditA”

    2, I suggest you study Latin seriously and here is your first lesson:
    “Punicos” is the accusative plural of Puni. So there !!!

    take this from me and Terentius:

    ” Nonne id flagitium est, te allis consilium dare,
    Foris sapere, tibi non potis esse auxiliarior?”

    and the most famous:

    “Si tacuisses, philosophus mansiesses”.

    what u reckons yous is now Latinist just because you is too awesome at being laughable ??!!

    I love it how give us Livy chapter as well……yeh yous is akademik alright !!

  • TheSadducee says:

    Otto

    Thanks for the advice – you learn something new everyday and I’m glad I afforded you the opportunity to demonstrate your learning.

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