Motti Fogel, brother of Udi Fogel, eulogized his younger brother but warned that his death cannot be used as a tool in a national struggle. "All of the slogans we hear are trying to efface the simple fact that you're dead, and nothing can efface that. This funeral has to be a private affair," Fogel said, adding: "A man dies to himself, to his children. Udi, you are no a national event. You're horrible death mustn't make your life into a tool."There is no symmetry between the Palestinians, the occupied, and the Israelis, the occupiers. Now that the "price tag" revenge actions have commenced, those charged with defending the Palestinians -- the Israel Defense Forces -- are incapable of doing their duty. Here, too, is another dishonoring of the memory of the Fogel family. Demonization dishonors; revenge killings and destruction of property dishonor; making political and hasbara hay dishonors; building settlements on Palestinian land dishonors. I wasn’t happy when I got gruesome pictures; I certainly am not happy when Israel dances on the blood, to use the Hebrew expression, in order to win points and to provide cover for building settlements. That is to be condemned especially because it is the work of the government. And one final word….when I was growing up, I was taught that what was particularly horrific about the Nazi extermination of the Jews was its cold, methodical, bureaucratic approach. The Jews were not even considered worthy to be killed out of hatred or passion; they were just bugs to be exterminated. Now, I am being told that brutally killing a baby by knife is more barbaric than bombing houses with civilians, where the killing is not deliberate (excuse me, does the IDF drop bombs accidentally?) Both claims are morally irrelevant. This kind of moral one-upmanship is repulsive. The bottom line: We kill their civilians and they kill ours. There are, however, two fundamental differences. First, we kill a lot more of theirs than they do of ours. And second, only one people subjugates another. I divide my moral universe into those who condemn the killing of civilians – whomever they may be – and those who don’t, whoever they may be. And those who condemn the subjugation of one people by another. And please read Yossi Gurevitz’s post here.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
There is a well-known midrash that Pharoah, at the time of the enslavement of Israel, would bathe in the blood of Israelite children to cure himself of leprosy. The image is foul and disgusting, but it does teach us that people do foul and disgusting things to further their selfish aims. A leper is an outcast from society -- but can outcasts purify themselves by such foul methods? I am reminded of that midrash when I read that the government of Israel has decided to improve its standing in the world by distributing gruesome photos of the Itamar murders to win some hasbara points. What do these murders, as condemnable as they are, say about the fundamental situation on the ground that we didn’t know already? At the height of the Second Intifada, I was sent emails containing gruesome pictures of Arab children who were butchered by Israeli bombs, and others containing gruesome pictures of Israeli Jewish children who were blown up by Arab suicide bombers. I made a collection of both pictures, and sent them to both groups of people – with the request to stop using these horrible incidents to win political points. The funeral of the Fogel family members, which was covered live, on the radio, was replete with speeches demonizing Palestinians (not just the group that carried out the murders) and calling for the appropriate Zionist response, the code-word for settlement, which itself is a form of terrorism. One speech, however, took a different tack – it was delivered by Motti Fogel, the brother of Udi Fogel, who was murdered: