We’re in our fifteenth day of war, and things are looking quite sad. I’ve already been to two funerals of fallen soldiers, and they were heart-breaking. Two young men who were called up to defend their country sacrificed their lives doing so. I know that on the other side of the border people are hurting as well.
As a leftist, it is painful to feel our responsibility. On both sides people failed to convince their leaders and their communities that there are better ways to settle thing than through war and destruction. But amidst all the grief and frustration I think we must try to learn some lessons, already, that may help us in the aftermath of yet another round of violence.
We should not be drawn into the temptation of seeing things in black and white. Just as we thought we must struggle from within Israel to find friends across the border, so we must struggle to find partners within Israel. Some people on the extreme left have been voicing their objections to the war with zealous outrage no less dangerous than those on the right: calling our soldiers murderers, calling the war a slaughter, questioning our right (and obligation) to defend our citizens, and rioting. This is not the way to bring the war to an end, and not the way to create a healthier or more tolerant society.
We must see that at the same time that there are sickening outbreaks of racism in Israel now, with protests and attcks on innocent Arab citizens, there are endless examples of heartwarming generosity. I’ve been involved daily with friends and organizations, some already existing and some now sprouting up, organizing help, volunteers and contributions to families in the south, for soldiers called up, for families of fallen soldiers, and for small businesses who have been closed because of the situation. The soldiers in Gaza are mostly driven by truly positive and admirable feelings — the desire to serve and protect their country and their families.
As we on the left are recovering from the war, we must find ways to reach out to people who do not necessarily agree with us on everything. We have to find ways not only to protect all of us from violence, but to work together better also in times of quiet. That will provide the best security against another war and help us advance the peace.