Jewish World Review Oct. 23, 2000 / 24 Tishrei 5761
here kill Jews?
Well, anyone can see that this is not fair. And anyone can see that the side which has the biggest losses must be in the right. And editorialists from California to London have made this clear.
But forgive a bit of Jewish pride here -- no one has put this argument with such mastery -- or with such flourishes of grammatical originality -- as one of our own, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Hillary Clinton's spiritual tutor in matters Hebrew, the editor of Tikkun. This is part of an e-mail he distributed on Monday after the admittedly rather rough justice meted out by an ad hoc Palestinian committee of concerned citizens to a couple of hapless IDF reservists. Rabbi Lerner argues, unexpectedly, that Israel does not deserve all the blame for the incident.
Yet the preponderance of responsibility lies with Israel and with an international media that continue to treat the death of Israeli soldiers enforcing a brutal occupation as somehow more outrageous and barbarous than the killing of (many times as many) Palestinian teenagers who were resisting the occupation. To me, Israeli deaths are a personal tragedy. But have we not yet learned that in G-d's eyes every human being is equally treasured?
The way we talk that discounts the huge amount of Palestinians killed and wounded reinforces the desperation that led to the current tragic moment.
The rabbi makes his point with absolute clarity --- I think. The fact that a "huge amount" of Palestinians were killed establishes that their cause was just. The fact that a fraction as many Israelis have been killed means that they must be in the wrong. The rabbi gently corrects those of the unlearned who might have interpreted the statement that "in G-d's eyes every human being is equally treasured." The ignorant among us might have thought this meant that even a single unjust death is wrong. But the rabbi makes us understand that it is, after all, a game of numbers, kind of like the stock market.
The solution is simple. At the beginning of the "peace process," there was a dreadful imbalance between Israelis with arms, which could be used to defend themselves, and Palestinians lacking arms, which could be used to attack Israelis. The Oslo accords and the successive conferences went a long way towards remedying this injustice by transferring arms and the money to purchase arms from Israel to the PA. And each year we moved closer to peace, as we can see.
Now, tragically, a similar imbalance exists. And it must be addressed if the peace process is to get back on track. Somehow, some way must be found to produce more dead Jews-hundreds of them, if possible. There are so many Israelis-- - and Jewish citizens of other countries. And yet those Palestinian teenagers, bless their hearts, who are justly resisting the occupation -- how can I say this kindly - just don't seem very good at killing Jews. No doubt it is the fault of Israel that this is so -- but time is too short to point fingers. The score must be evened - for the sake of the peace process. For the sake of the conscience of the world.
So we know Jews must die. But there are so many questions. Ought the dead to consist mainly of soldiers, shot by the arms so beneficiently distributed to the PA? Should there be more reservists, killed by gifted amateurs? Or perhaps some bombs which targeting civilians, placed by the experts the PA moves about from jail to freedom, --- so that some younger Jews might be included in the count, women and children?
Who is to choose which of us must be killed?
I nominate Rabbi
JWR contributor Sam Schulman is deputy editor of Taki's Top Drawer, appearing in New York Press, and was formerly publisher of Wigwag and a professor of English at Boston University. You may contact him by clicking here.