5 thoughts on “David Grossman Addresses Rabin Memorial: ‘Our Military, Political Leadership is Hollow’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Thank you Richard for sharing these eloquent words from David Grossman. It is the David Grossmans of Israel and the Jewish Americans such as you, Richard, that keep me from giving up on Israel altogether. Since our celebration of the 1967 victory, I have become disillusioned and angry with the state of Israel. What keeps me sane is knowing that a very large percentage of Israelis are opposed to the settlements, occupation and the treatment of Palestinians. David Grossman gives me hope that the huge potential for Israel to be a light onto the world for all to admire and emulate is still burning in the hearts of Israelis. My faith in Israel to live up to their great Jewish heritage cannot be extinguished as long as voices in Israel continue to give voice to those ideals.

  2. I sympathise with the plight of European Jewry that drove them to Palestine. I can understand how a brutalised people can behave brutally, without condoning it, and I see the parallels between the Jewish experience and its outcome, and the Palestinian experience and its outcome.

    I feel for Mr. Grossman over the loss of his son, even as I abhor the circumstances under which it happened.

    What I don’t understand is the surprise and disappointment that he and others feel over what Israel has become. What else could be expected, considering the circumstances of its origin? Can anyone really believe that creating a society by dispossessing and striving to racially cleanse its inhabitants will have a good result? Surely it’s clear that Israel has become as he described, as the logical consequence of the way it was begun.

    There’s always hope to fix what’s broken, but never when the damage isn’t recognised and addressed. You may not like Hamas and what it represents, but how can you not acknowledge the legitimacy of its position, given what happened? If Israelis could accomplish that, then and only then, it seems to me, is there hope for the future of both peoples in that holy but damaged land. As long as there’s insistence on legitimising conquest, how can anyone imagine the conquered, the oppressed, being able to show mercy to the conqueror, the oppressor?

  3. Hasan: Thanks for yr comment & for yr willingness to understand Grossman’s pt of view though you may ultimately part ways w. his embrace of Zionism.

    I don’t think I or Grossman would deny any of the “charges” you level against Israel or the way it was created. But the diff. bet. you & I is that I hold out a firm belief that those actions were not ‘Zionism,’ but a distortion of the guiding moral & political principles of Zionism.

    Just as an example, I firmly reject George Bush and the last six yrs of his leadership & that of the Republican party. But does that mean that I fundamentally reject the notion of America? Because a group of individuals has perverted the values underpinning this dream of a country do I judge the entire American enterprise a fraud? No.

    In the same way, I can be profoundly critical of Israel while still holding out hope & a belief that it will some day come to its senses & make the compromises needed for peace. That is the entire premise & mission of this blog.

    You may not like Hamas and what it represents, but how can you not acknowledge the legitimacy of its position, given what happened?

    It all depends what “position” you’re talking about. I have no problem with Hamas running in an election, winning that election, & attempting to run their nation. I have no problem with resistance to the Occupation.

    But I have a very serious, insurmountable problem with violence (on both sides), but especially violence against civilians, & even more especially violence within the Green Line. It seems to me that Hamas’ forms of resistance even today can be as brutal & unprincipled as Israeli oppression. The only diff. is that Hamas does not (yet) have the weaponry to inflict mass death while Israel does.

    As long as there’s insistence on legitimising conquest, how can anyone imagine the conquered, the oppressed, being able to show mercy to the conqueror, the oppressor?

    But they do. There is mercy on both sides shown to the other side. It happens almost every day. I admit those mercies are small gestures often not seen or heard through the mass media which only looks for the big, splashy, boom-boom story (that’s why wars & terror attacks are big magnets). The key is to expand those moments of mercy. If we can eventually convince politicians to embrace the concept of mercy as Begin & Sadat did in 1979, then maybe an Israeli prime minister would really try to do a “Sadat” on the Palestinians as Grossman brilliantly suggests in his speech.

    Can human beings transcend their suffering (whether they be oppressor or oppressed) & have the bigness of heart to make peace? To quote Molly Bloom: “Yes, I said yes, I will yes.”

  4. Richard: I’m grateful for your response. In this era of the victory of partisanship over principle, the benefit of thoughtful dialogue isn’t often enjoyed.

    I appreciate several of your comments which have illustrated errors in mine.

    I’m not so sure that I’m anti-Zionist, as I’m not really sure what Zionism means. If it means dispossessing the Palestinians and legitimises that, then I am against it. I’m not by any means in principle against Jews living in Palestine-Israel, and I know that there are many Israeli and other Jews who are far from sharing the racist views of the Libermans and Netanyahus.

    I think I understand the motivation behind the establishment of Israel, and I can even understand, though not condone, the method by which it was done. I can also understand, though not condone, the desperation of some of the Palestinians that leads them to the excesses they commit. I agree totally with your position on violence against civilians. My use of the word ‘legitimate’ with respect to Hamas was inappropriate, at least too all-encompassing. I too take exception to their endorsement of attacks on civilians.

    What I have a hard time getting my head around is the association of the concept of ‘right’ with the creation of a nation by conquest. It’s for that reason that I personally prefer a one to a two state solution, though ultimately it’s not for the likes of me to decide.

    What I fear is that if that approach isn’t taken, and the struggle begun for the two peoples to live *together* in peace, that the exclusivsts on both sides will continue to pursue the objective of other-annihilation.

    You’re right to point out the undeniable acts of generosity and kindness on both sides, that stand starkly juxtaposed to the brutality, again of both. Even so I’d suggest that the oppressor always bears the greater moral responsibility.

    Interesting by the way that you mention America. The similarities are there aren’t they, in the treatment of the indigenous peoples in the course of establishing the nation, compromising whatever ideals were also present. No ideal excuses genocide or ethnic cleansing.

  5. Thanks once again for yr thoughtful response. Wouldn’t it be great if you & I could negotiate on behalf of Israel & Palestine? We could have this conflict resolved right quick.

    I’d suggest that the oppressor always bears the greater moral responsibility.

    I couldn’t agree more. Israel does bear more moral responsibility because of its greater power, its Occupation, & because its own national history should’ve made it sensitive to the moral depravity of precisely the policies it pursues. Though (& I know you’re not arguing against this pt.) the Palestinians bear some measure of responsibility as well.

    No ideal excuses genocide or ethnic cleansing.

    Again, agreed. It never ceases to amaze me how the uber-Israel supporters argue that any act of violence against Palestinians no matter how bestial can be justified because the Palestinians want to exterminate Israel.

    First, of course I’d dispute that false notion of Palestinian goals; but 2nd, even if it were true–do we lose our minds morally in order to maintain our physical survival? To take it to its ultimate extreme: if Israel’s survival required killing half of the Palestinian population (as happened to the Jews in the Holocaust) would this be justified morally? Again, I firmly believe that Israel is not under imminent threat to its national survival. But at what price survival?

    I personally believe there are things more important than survival. Of course, life is precious and there are very few things that would justify either taking one or giving up one’s own life. But there are a few and this is a fact that no ultra pro-Israel supporter would acknowledge. There are principles worth defending with one’s life. Protecting a loved one may in some rare instances be worth giving up one’s own.

    I of course am not arguing that Israel should give up its “life.” Rather, I am arguing for a reconsideration of the “survival at all costs” mentality. It is “survival at all costs” that causes Israelis to refuse to give up a single hectare of conquered Palestinian land. Survival at all costs persuades Israelis that God commanded them to retain the land and kill any Palestinian who stands in the way. In fact, survival at all costs is a death wish rather than a life-affirming principle.

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