Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Sharon at the International court (because he bit a dog)

Word has it that the Palestinians plan on taking Sharon to the brand new 23 day-old international court. Israel is not a member so it doesn't really matter. And wow, 23 days. But Arafat needs to make a point.

I was thinking about the recent air-strike in Gaza against the leader of Hamas. The mood here in Israel is of course divided. Those on the left say that Sharon is a murderer, and the right claims to be upset at the unfortunate collateral damage. (The farther right is saying that this acts as a legitimate warning to the next Hamas leader that Israel will consider the life of his family no different from his own.)

Now, Israel for all its high moralist talk about protecting civilians really f@*#ed up here. It seems hard to not realize that you will kill a bunch of civilians when the leader of Hamas is holed up in an apartment house. The leader of Hamas knew that, and that is why he was holed up with civilians! And that is why Israel should have had a better plan. I really am skeptical of their claims to ignorance. More likely they didn't care.

What I really do find rather pathetic is the fact that I have been asked by Arabs (via email and in person) what the national mood here is and what I think. Somehow this is a real shock and tragedy to the Arab world. Innocent civilians were killed. It is a shock because it is a real case of man biting dog and everyone knows that.

I ask, as I have asked before, aren't they embarrassed? They know that there are no tears in Syria when a gunman opens fire on a 12-year-old girl's birthday party. There is no weeping for a blown-up school bus. There is no sadness for the Israelis who die because they are drinking coffee in the wrong café.

Apparently only Jews are expected to feel bad when these things happen. Arabs are not. And apparently that is OK. There is a radically different internal logic that is expected of the Arab world, one I am not envious of, and one that generally justifies the negative stereotypes that the Arab world is stuck with. Arabs play by their own rules, and that is OK, Jews play by western rules. Arabs apparently still reserve the right to criticize others for not playing by western rules, despite the fact that they are not bound by them.

I do weep for the children killed in Gaza. I weep because I am human. I weep, and I weep with sadness and at the same time pride at the fact that I can weep. I know that it is this humanity, this ability to feel for the victims of their own necessity is what will keep Israel on a path to peace. The fact that you do not need to read the papers to know about the parliamentary inquiries already pending and you do not have to be on the Peace Now mailing list to know to expect demonstrations by Israelis, shows which direction Israel's moral compass is pointing.