19 March 2011

Victims, Rescuers, Persecutors

Victims, rescuers, persecutors, lend me your ears. I have come to bury your pre-conceived identities, not to praise them. I now meditate openly upon GreenLanguage.com's descriptions of your mentalities.

I take you back to Friday, March 11, 2011. Half a world away, an earthquake and its tsunami devastate northern Japan. But this is the Israeli settlement of Itamar. Let us enter the Palestinian mindset: The Jews have been at it again. They have been taking land and water from Palestinians, making Palestinian lives less and less tenable, so that they will be forced to move further away, so that the Jews can take more land, more water. It is an Israeli government policy, forced on the government by the demands of the settlers themselves, who are trying to encroach on all the land they imagine must have once belonged to the short-lived Biblical kingdom of Israel some 2700 years ago. Thus every Jewish settler is a persecutor of Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian narrative of history, avenging heroes are needed to rescue the Palestinians from these Jews. Any attack that can be made, any blow that can be struck, must be struck. An avenger or avengers cut or climbed the fence surrounding the settlement, and entered the a persecutor's home. It was unoccupied. So they entered another and used their knives to butcher whoever they found there - Rabbi Ehud Fogel, his wife Ruth, their 11 and 4 year old sons Yoav and Elad, and their three month old daughter Hadas. Then they fled.

The Imad Mughnieh Squad of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was quick to claim responsibility for the murders, but later issued a denial (Al-Hayat, March 13; Qudsnet website, March 12, 2011). The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are the "street muscle" behind al-Fatah, the ruling party of the West Bank.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, made it clear that they had nothing to do with the murders, which they found to be heroic. They either distributed or permitted the distribution of sweets on the streets of Rafah to celebrate the attack and to show support for it. More details here.

Now I ask you to look at the right-most face in the picture below. Does this look like a persecutor?

Clearly, there is something missing from the Palestinian narrative of self-justification.

For their part the Israeli Right maintains that the Palestinian opinion-leaders want all the land of Israel, not just the settlements in the West Bank, which they think Israel needs as a "buffer zone." They point to the rocket attacks on Israel proper when Israeli troops were withdrawn from Lebanon, and from Gaza as evidence. They consider these withdrawals to have been appeasement. They point to the propaganda used in textbooks for Palestinian schools, which calls for the destruction of Israel itself. In the narrative of the Israeli Right, the Palestinians are the persecutors, the Israeli people are the victims, and the Israeli Defense Force are the avengers/rescuers/protectors. But whenever they move in to avenge/rescue, somebody gets hurt. And some fraction of the time that somebody is an innocent bystander, or a child. Moreover, their response to the murders is to increase the aversive stimulus to the Palestinians - to build more houses in the settlements. Clearly, there is something missing from the right-wing Israeli narrative of self-justification.

The Israeli Left, has its own narrative, in which the Israeli Right is the persecutor, and both the Israeli Left and the Palestinians are the victims. They hope to be spared the vengeance of the Palestinian terrorists, even though the violence of the terrorists is indiscriminate. They try to minimize any story that the Right might use to its own advantage. (Example here.) They ignore or minimize evidence that the Palestinian leadership does indeed seek the destruction of Israel, they refuse to consider Palestinian attacks such as this one to be terrorism or even hate crimes, because they are the tactic of the underdog. And the underdog deserves the sympathy of any morally developed individual regardless of the tactics the underdog uses. In their narrative, the Palestinians turn to terror and murder is "only natural." As if the Palestinians were morally or mentally inferior to the Israeli Left. Clearly there is something missing from the left-wing Israeli narrative of self-justification.

That same thing is missing from everybody's narrative of self-justification. It is simply this: When you are a Rescuer (Avenger/Protector) you are also a Persecutor, when you are a Victim you either want to be a Rescuer or to be Rescued, which means you want to be a Persecutor or have the benefit of a potential Persecutor on your side, and when you are a Persecutor, you are setting yourself up to become some other Rescuer's Victim. The Rescuer-Victim_Persecutor trap is so seductive that some Rescuers even rescue their victims only enough to maintain the victims in permanent need of their rescue - they way various programs to help the poor, or to solve urban blight are run all over the world.

Is there a way out of the Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor trap? Indeed there is. Simply by sticking to the facts at present, by being here now, and talking what is verifiably here and now, we can change the future. See GreenLanguage.com.

Or, as Jesus of Nazareth put it, "Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free."

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