Israeli Terrorism — Cause & Effect A Radical Jewish Perspective by Marvin Ratner
In the fall of 1971 I visited Israel for two months, in search of home on my spiritual odyssey towards self. I was a seeker born of Judaism, having grown up in Brooklyn, New York within an orthodox Jewish family. My first month in Israel was spent at Kibbutz Hanita on an Ulpan program, where I learned Hebrew, fed the chickens, played chess with the gardener and participated in the daily life of the community. Living at the kibbutz was relaxed and the lifestyle peaceful, but I was restless, in search of adventure. I had just finished a two-year position as a university teacher of Computer Science, and it didn’t take long to realize that feeding chickens was not quite my calling. So I left the Ulpan program and spent the next month touring Israel to explore my Jewish roots.
In October I was walking thru the Old City of Jerusalem with some friends. Without warning, a hand grenade exploded nearby, causing panic and terror in the ancient street. Fortunately for me, I was about ten feet outside of the blast zone, but my friend Jack was not so lucky and suffered a severe stomach injury from shrapnel. We loaded Jack onto a door, into a jeep, and were at the hospital emergency room within 20 minutes. When I asked the nurse how many people were hurt, she replied, “13 Jews”. I then asked if anyone else was hurt. “Three Arabs,” she replied.
Though I was sickened by the bloody injury and pain of my close friend, the nurse’s answer sickened me more. Clearly this attitude, that the Arabs are not people, was the foundation of hatred that created the environment of terror and loathing that produced the ‘terrorist’ who threw the grenade with intent to kill and maim his perceived enemy.
The recent violence in Lebanon and Gaza similarly leaves me with a sickening disquietude, a deep sadness and anger towards the Israeli government. That government continues to engage in a reign of terror in which the well being of innocent civilians has been entirely disregarded. Daily, people are killed, injured and displaced thru these ruthless exercises of military force. It has been a reckless and reactionary retribution leveled against an innocent collective populace in response to the actions of “terrorists” who, for their part, believe that they are justified freedom fighters acting to rid their people of an oppressive occupier who has taken away their land and methodically destroyed the livelihood and culture of the Palestinian People. These terrorists also randomly attack innocent people, and so the cycle of violence expands and intensifies, both parties self-righteous in their cause. Both sides protect what they perceive as self-interest yet jeopardize their very survival through hatred and violence, precluding the very peace and just solution that is so desperately needed.
The bombing of power plants in Gaza, and the ruthless destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon have only caused human misery, displacing a million people, injuring and killing thousands of innocents, and creating impoverished refugees. Predictably, the resultant culture of hatred will produce a new wave of so-called terrorists willing to fight, kill and die for what they understand to be their own dignity and survival. The numbers of willing recruits are now ten times what they were before this current wave of wanton violence.
The Israeli government claims that it fights for the survival of the State of Israel, but their over-reaction and the magnitude of the violence against innocent life is in fact a root cause of the hatred being directed against them. These acts are only the latest in a barbaric tradition of escalating reciprocity. They are only matched in craziness by Israel’s claim that to be a good Jew requires supporting the acts of Israel, right or wrong. I reject this linkage because these actions are both wrong and abhorrent. In the sixties, I spoke out against our country’s involvement in Vietnam because we were waging an immoral war. I now urge all Jews and people of conscience to speak out on this subject.
Hatred begets hatred. War, death and destruction are the inevitable result of distrust, prejudice and the self-righteous attitude that “we” are superior to “them”, that “our” needs must be met, while “their” needs are irrelevant. For this era of war to end, there must emerge a call for justice leading to attitudes of forgiveness, mutual respect and compromise, for both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples. There will never be Victory, unless it be a Victory through Peace and Understanding.
Trust in God, but tether your camels. Namaste.
Marvin Ratner is a spiritual seeker and world traveler. He recently returned to Ashland, Oregon after 10 years overseas. Currently semi-retired, he has taught university, imported handcrafts from Asia, and enjoys nature, massage, personal growth, meeting interesting people and forming new relationships. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.” Email Marvin at [email protected]