Some brief reflections on suffering, victimhood, and violence.
I have been trying to practice what you call intellectual humility. It is difficult amidst so much death and hatred. But it seems that both sides have arguments that are irrefutable, and this is one area where present time facts (assuming someone is trying to report them) don't take us closer to resolution but rather seem to exacerbate.
At the risk of sounding nuts to most people, I believe that the only long term solution is intermarriage and procreation between the Jews and Palestinians. (I feel the same about racial differences in this country.) But for that to happen, we need to stop trying to separate people with rhetoric and borders. And the people in the region (along with the rest of us) need to see the futility and self-destruction inherent in tribalism. Adherence to the tribe may seem to afford short term protection, but in the long run it is death. And it is our children who will suffer the most.
I had an insight today, that the 2nd chapter of Thomas Bernhard's GATHERING EVIDENCE is almost a prophesy for the present and future of Gaza. This second chapter was originally published as its own small volume ("The Cause: An Indication"), the first of five in Bernhard's autobiography, in German in 1975. It recounts 30+ years later, when Bernhard was from ages 13 to 15 in a boarding school in Salzburg, Austria from 1943 to 1945, as the city was bombed by the Allies and then afterwards when Nazi administrators were replaced by Catholics. George Steiner in the Times Literary Supplement wrote some years later that this volume was the best description of what it was like to be bombed and in bomb shelters in any language. Bernhard later had the protagonist in his last book, Extinction, bequeath his inheritance to the Jewish people. What's notable about it is the materialist realism of teenage Bernhard's view of his education, and the inertia of its educational practices as Nazis morphed into Catholics.
“I don’t feel entirely comfortable asking Palestinians—particularly those with family who have been killed by Israeli bombs—to adopt “intellectual humility” as their north star. Nor do I expect the loved ones of the Israelis massacred by Hamas to be particularly concerned with “proportionality” and the laws of war.”
I agree with all this but what frustrates me about most Americans’ attitudes towards the conflict is that 99% of them are not in this situation! They should count themselves lucky that they are not in either of these difficult positions and take both sides’ perspectives seriously with humility and understanding. Instead they lean into self-righteous moral outrage and declare the other side as all fair game to kill since they are all supposedly terrorists or occupiers anyway.
“the use of violence in the name of redressing wrongs has a corrosive effect on the soul and mind.”
Mubarak on the new post. MashAllah.
I got sad vibes though reading your Washington Post article. My mom is Syrian. My heart died years ago because of the inability of leaders to let people die. I list 2 family members directly and 2 or 3 indirectly from it. Is it something similar for you too?
The grand mufti Haj Amin Husseini had a relationship with Hitler and decided to pursue extermination over peace and NO ONE has come to help the Palestinians since that grave decision. Not Israel, not the Arab world, not the Brits, not the UN. Their suffering is the fault of the whole god damn world and it is BEYOND tragic.
As far as I’m concerned, Jewish liberaron and Palestinian liberation are now completely tied in with each other, and my job is to pursue that perspective while batting away all the annoying, dangerous flies of antisemitic, anti-Israeli and anti-Palestinian rhetoric along the way.
I very much appreciate that your article calls for humility right now but I won’t restack it bc it still contains too much bias in my opinion.