Parable: A man has a pet dog, whom he abuses and whips. The dog cowers for a time, until finally it snaps and bites the man. The man beats the dog even more severely, and the dog begins biting more and more frequently and severely. Finally, the man beats the dog and inflicts mortal injuries, the dog bites the man in the throat, and both die as victims of the cycle of violence begun by the abusive man.
Israel knows pain. It might be said that Israel was born of pain of Jewish travails that occurred long before the nation-state was born. The pain of Israeli Zionists is legendary and constantly emphasized. The weary, teary Elie Wiesel is a prime example of a career built on a foundation of the continual reminders of pain — past, present and future.
Israel knows not only pain, but fear of pain. There is a hypersensitivity to pain that has resulted in a paradox. Israel is so hypersensitive to its own pain that it seems unable to feel sympathy for those upon whom it has inflicted far more severe pain that she herself is suffering.
Yes, Hezbollah has tossed some missiles at Israel, and continues to do so. One spiritual school of thought regarding the meaning of Hezbollah’s actions could be that the members of Hezbollah are themselves suffering pain and are calling out to Israel for relief from pain inflicted by Israel. Could Israel attempt to feel the pain of Hezbollah and Hamas and see if it is possible to reduce or mitigate that pain by affirmative action on Israel’s part? Would it not be sensible for Israel to attempt to reduce her own pain by placing a balm on the pain of its own attackers, even at the cost of some self-sacrifice?
Instead, Israel’s hypersensitivity to others’ pain causes it to grossly overreact, inflicting far more pain than Israel herself suffers. It would be like a woman picking up her infant cousin, and finding that the infant cousin gave her a bite, causing minor pain.
Would it be proper to toss that infant to the ground and stomp it because of the relatively minor pain it caused?
In the cosmic scale of things, how much pain have Hezbollah and Hamas and all the Palestinians and Arabs ever caused Israel in comparison with the dispossession, murder, land theft, resource theft, imprisonment, torture, and other serious mistreatment caused by Israel towards her victims? Are not the Palestinians and other current foes of Israel acting out of their own pain and suffering when they attack Israel?
How can the roots of these problems ever be resolved by ever-escalating cycles of violence? Would it not be far better to reduce the pain and inflammation by paying out of her own pocket the cost of some balm to salve the grievous burns and lacerations and contusions inflicted by Israel on her innocent victims?
Why does Israel not take half of the monies donated to her by the U.S. government, for instance, and instead of purchasing weapons of war, purchase and share instruments of healing and reconciliation with her aggrieved neighbors?
Would it not be better for all if Israel took the initiative and inflicted peace instead of war, healing instead of pain, and hope instead of despair?
Would that healing not benefit Israel herself? Oftentimes, healing is a step-by-step process, and it is never too late to start the process by deliberate actions. You just cannot fully heal your own pain by harming someone else. Healing should be the goal, not victory, which is illusory in the relevant set of circumstances.
You can bomb your enemies to pieces but you will never find peace through bombs. But if you can find the strength to beat those swords into plowshares and ignore your own pain for a while in order to heal others’ pain, you may be surprised at how easy it can be to heal deep wounds and experience mutual healing with those formerly thought to be your enemies.