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Death Does Not Justify Death

Last Saturday night, after seeing on TV that a second terrorist attack in Israeli towns took place on that evening, I became restless. I felt that being depressed or ignoring all this are not the only options for me. I made a sign and wrote on it "DEATH does not justify DEATH" in both Hebrew and English. On the next morning I stood with my sign near Café Moment, holding it and letting drivers read it while they slow their cars, shocked from the sight of the destruction that happened just the night before.

I am not talking to those who hissed "idiot", said "a bloody leftist" or shouted "death to the Arabs". My intended audience is those who nodded in approval or raised a thumb up. I want to call those that for them "death does not justify death" is obvious but don't stop to think about it while considering the right way to relate to the current situation.

The statement "death does not justify death" gets some serious responses: "what's your plan" and "why don't you tell that to the Palestinians". In the core of this statement there is no plan for a solving the problems of the conflict. It's a moral statement that is not heard now. The Right blames the Arabs for the violence. The Left blames the Israeli government with supporting the Settlements. Both sides justify the death of people from the other side, each with its own reasoning. The Right and the Left equally respond to the statement "death does not justify death" with - "yes, but".

The Right and the Left are both morally rotten. The Left justifies the "Freedom Fighters" and the Right cheers the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces. The Right and the Left both justify the killing of human beings, be it babies or soldiers. As the conflict escalates, their moral stench will rise and make the possibility of a solution close to impossible.

Death does not justify death - this is the moral foundation for solving the conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians. The left and the Left must remind it to themselves in order to be able to solve their conflicts.

Those who say "yes, but" are actively erasing "death does not justify death" from their conscience. We need Jews and Arabs who will understand and assimilate the fundamental difference between the justification of violence and the explanation of its sources. The movement from "justify" to "explain" is complex and hard but exactly there lies the hope for a solution.

Let us repeatedly remind our leaders that dealing with moral issues is not a luxury. It is the only way for calming this area. If our leaders, who power the deadly merry-go-round of our lives, will first tell themselves, and then their people, that death does not justify death - they will reach a solution.

Hanan Cohen - Beit Shemesh

First published in the "Letters to the editor" section of Haaretz, march 17, 2002.

What now?

  • "We are not naïve. We know it is not popular to call for dialogue, either among the Palestinians nor among most of the population of Israel. We perfectly know that maybe today or tomorrow the real necessary dialogue will not happen. But the day after tomorrow will come. Today, our duty and our utmost responsibility is to keep open channels that will enable the dialogue, when time will come for its turn to happen. Our duty is to make it happen today, together, for showing it is possible. Out duty is to make sure that when time comes, on both sides there are people who will be able to look each other in the eyes without fear, while knowing that during any moment - even in those harsh days - they did not surrender to hate and despair."

  • Inform me of other organisations in the MidEast who would support the idea of a non-violent solution to the MidEast conflict.

    Toda - Shukran - Thanks

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