Sunday, January 25, 2009

Opinion: Israel Must Stop Fanning the Flames That Will Consume Us - David Grossman

Washington Post, January 25, 2009 - ....So, a month after the war began, in the midst of the wave of nationalist invective now sweeping Israel, it would not hurt to keep in mind that this latest military operation in Gaza was, when all is said and done, just one more way-station on a road paved with fire, violence and hatred. On this road, you sometimes win and you sometimes lose, but in the end it leads to ruin.

As both Israel and Hamas declared their own cease-fires, we Israelis rejoiced at how this campaign has rectified Israel's military failures in the Second Lebanon War of 2006. But we should listen to the voice that says that the Israel Defense Forces' achievements are not indubitable proof that Israel was right to set out on an operation of such huge proportions; they certainly do not justify the way our army pursued its mission. The IDF's success confirms only that Israel is much stronger than Hamas, and that under certain circumstances it can be very tough and cruel.

But as the magnitude of the killing and the devastation has become apparent to all, perhaps Israeli society will, for a brief moment, put its sophisticated mechanisms of repression and self-righteousness on hold. And then perhaps a lesson of some sort will be etched into the Israeli consciousness. Maybe then we will finally understand something deep and fundamental -- that our conduct here in this region has, for a long time, been flawed, immoral and unwise. Time and again, it fans the flames that are consuming us....

David Grossman is a leading Israeli novelist and peace activist. A version of this article first appeared in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. It was translated from the Hebrew by Haim Watzman and published in English in the Washington Post.

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