Thank you Marc for this very deep and insightful post.
“The lessons of history have been lost to us. Or did we learn them too well?”
I found these sentences very chilling.
It reminds me of how you train fighting dogs, and the similarities to the perpetuation of violence in the I-P conflict. The animals are beaten without giving them a chance to understand why, in order to increase their latent aggressiveness. Senseless violence risks creating psychopaths. This is of course also connected to how abuse in childhood can do the same.
With regards to the present, any further pondering on the aspect of a cycle of violence is hardly necessary. It is the past and the future of this cycle we must examine, in order to see the big picture.
From the very beginning of recorded history:
“When Yahweh your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you — the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites…and when Yahweh your God gives them over to you…you must utterly destroy them…Show them no mercy…For you are a people holy to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession”
“But as for the towns of these peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as Yahweh your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against Yahweh your God”
The Jewish people seized the promised land from the Canaanites with violence, but were enslaved by Egypt. Later, the promised land was reclaimed again with violence, but the Jewish people were enslaved by the Assyrian king, who resettled their lands with other peoples. When the Jewish people returned and built the Second Temple, it must have seemed as if the future held peace. Only things such as records on the views on intermarriage and the refusal to include the Samaritans in the construction of the Second Temple might have given particular reasons to fear for future tensions. And so later eventually the Sicarii (who were to the Roman occupation what Islamic Jihad are to the Israeli occupation today) and other Jewish zealots, fuelled by nationalist fervour (or “baseless hatred” as some would say) provoked the Roman occupiers into driving them from Jerusalem. As a side note there was one rather famous Jew who argued against the Jewish nationalism prevalent at the time in the sense that he thought that political leadership is a political, and not religious, matter.
It is interesting to note the similarities between Hitler’s imagined Lebensraum and the Promised Land as described in the two quotes above. With 8 million dead in the war, the Germans paid the price in blood immediately. Zionism as a response of Judaism to the baseless hatred and nationalism on the European continent therefore seems very paradoxical – how can somebody ever argue for one people’s “inherent” right to land after the Holocaust? Who, and/or what system is perpetuating the violence here?
For the future, universal judgement blind to religion or ethnicity seems like the only way to finally end this cycle of violence, which might go on indefinitely otherwise. Unfortunately, I fear even in these enlightened times it would truly take a meshiach to do this and reverse the escalation towards the next deadly cycle.
Here are the words of MLK on the subject:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”