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Must Atrocities Be Commonplace?


A little over an hour ago I learned that in the latest act of calculated brutality, a Palestinian toddler was burned to death in an arson attack by renegade Zionist settlers. I substitute the word “Zionist” for the word “Jewish” because nothing so ugly should be associated with the tradition of Judaism, which exists quite apart from the state of Israel. I write this letter with a certain amount of lethargy for obvious reasons, first because of the sense of moral falseness anyone feels after writing about an atrocity so soon after it has occurred and second because of the nauseating familiarity of these reoccurring atrocities. With some weariness, I continue.

A year has passed since the Israeli operation Protective Edge (Orwellian doublespeak at its finest) ended. Statistics can be tedious, but it is important to remind ourselves that 2,000 Gazans were killed and 10,000 wounded. Of the wounded, 3,000 were children, and 1,000 of those children were left permanently disabled. Fast-forward a year and settlements continue, beatings and humiliation of locals are routine, and violence by settlers has been documented as a widespread technique to panic the native Palestinian population into surrendering — willfully or not.

The burning alive of a Palestinian toddler underlines a much deeper pathology in the moral decay of Israel. I do not say this as a critic of Israel; I say it to warn supporters of Israel that if Israel chooses to follow the path of the oppressor, the oppressor itself will inevitably become a victim of its own brutality. If events continue, I fear the destruction of the state of Israel will not be a result of what Israel’s enemies do it but what Israel continues to do to itself. As Professor Noam Chomsky has said, “Again, we have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead.”

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