Thursday, July 20, 2006

State of Terror

A state of terror exists in the Middle East. It's name is Israel. If we believe that Israel "has a right to defend itself," then certainly we must also believe (if we are sensible people) that civilians have a right to defend themselves against state-terror.

I'm not sure I believe in the myth of self-defense, particularly when Israel boasts the most sophisticated military in the world (what with all their American-made and American paid-for weapons of mass destruction). They are fighting kidnappers and suicide bombers (not to mention the 300 or so Lebanese civilians who have already been murdered with a shining green light from the U.S. - and whose families certainly have a right to defend themselves at least insofar as Israel has a right to defend itself).

Ultimately I do know that there is no qualitative difference between non-state terror and state-sanctioned terror. I know that the blood of a Jew is no more valuable than the blood of an Arab (no matter how many op-eds to the contrary I may read in The New York Times). I know that asymmetrical retaliation only proves the rule that all things must ultimately balance.

Israeli author David Grossman, in his recent interview with Bill Moyers, confessed, "For me, as an Israeli, and as a Jew, I find a lot of symptoms of our behavior today, as a society, as a state, coded in the character of the Biblical Samson." I find this a useful lens through which to view the events from the past few days: although Samson does fulfill God's plan, he too ends up destroying himself, blinded, when he pulls down the temple of the Philistines.

Finally, last night's Tao Te Ching reading was Chapter 74:
If you do not fear death,
then how can it intimidate you?
If you aren't afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can not do.

Those who harm others
are like inexperienced boys
trying to take the place of a great lumberjack.
Trying to fill his shoes will only get them seriously hurt.

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