It is with a heavy heart and reluctant keyboard that I type this note. Nevertheless, I have purported myself to be an objective and rational person and as such feel the need to comment on the distasteful and disturbing revelations of the conduct of some Israeli soldiers in their recent action in Gaza. I believe that it is imperative that the Israeli government investigate these claims, discipline any and all of those involved, make whatever restitution is possible with the families affected (though I don’t know that this is realistic) and make it clear to their soldiers and the world that this sort of behaviour will never be tolerated.
I wrote previously of my support for Israeli soldiers, their temperament and their honour. Let me be clear about this point: I still believe that my words ring true for the vast majority of Israeli soldiers. I am proud to have friends who serve the Israeli army today and who have in the past and I can say with absolute certainty that – even in the clouds of war that can make ordinary men do terrible things – they would never, ever engage in this sort of behaviour.
Members of the most moral armies have gone astray before and it will happen again. It is a unique brand of introspection that is called for when a proud country sees the men and women who protect it choose the decidedly wrong path and in so doing embarrass the people they defend. Canadians endured the same sort of international humiliation in Somalia not so long ago. Those offenses were not seen by Canadians as reflective of the content of the nation’s soul and in the same way I believe that this does not reflect what’s in the hearts and souls of most Israelis. I continue to contend that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace and believe that these actions (which cannot be limited to a single side in this conflict) are the product of fear and not hatred.
Justice must be done. One of Israel’s greatest moral strengths in this region of the world is that it is a democracy. As such, they have democratic institutions in place established for the purpose of investigating these matters and that those involved are brought to justice.
As I said at the beginning, I am writing this post with a heavy heart. I am deeply saddened and embarrassed by this news. Most disappointing of all is the alleged involvement of rabbis encouraging this sort of behaviour. Too often, it seems, we see these negative demonstrations of religion and faith. The fundamental basis of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are kindness and generosity. Those who seek to use religion as an instrument of hatred are guilty not only of whatever crimes are perpetrated at their urging, but of the perversion of God’s will.
Note: I don’t want this post to inspire comments that either insist that the Palestinians brought this on themselves or that Israelis are monsters. I am always wary of a post on Israel because of the small thinkers that seem to come out of the woodwork on both sides of the debate. Likewise, I don’t want to see those posters that seek only to argue that religion is the root of all hatred. Only constructive comments will be allowed. I have super-human moderating powers and will not be reluctant to use them on this post.