Sunday, March 27, 2011

Justice and Humanity and Twisted Ironies

On Friday, my phone beeped. It's set to send me news messages. I'm a news-aholic. If I don't know what is not happening (and by extension what is), I'm a wreck. First report said a shooting incident; second report clarified.

An Arab attacked a soldier, hitting him hard enough to put him in critical condition with a blow to his head. Police were nearby and shot the Arab in the legs. The attack is over as far as a medical threat; the terrorist disabled. Now what you have is two people needing medical intervention. One urgently; one a bit less so. Protocol followed, further damage averted; two wounded. A soldier and an attacker.

The location was in the Jordan valley, a bit remote. We have hospitals in many cities, but there are zones which are more problematic when it comes to the distance for an ambulance. This is one of the stretch locations. And so a call is made, the calculation determined. Here it was a non-issue. A soldier has been injured; the helicopter took to the air in minutes. So far, this is an ordinary story in every way - from the Arab attacking; to the soldier and the police defending; to the helicopter going in fast.

When the helicopter landed, they loaded two wounded people onto it. The soldier who was bleeding and injured, and the Arab who had tried to kill him. Justice served? Humanity displayed? I looked at Elie as he told me this, "are they stupid?" I demanded in fury.

There is a twisted irony in placing the attacker on the same rescue helicopter as the soldier. The angry part of me wants the soldiers to have ordered an ambulance for the terrorist and let it drive slowly to the hospital, hitting every pothole in the road that it could find. I know all about medics being asked to pledge that they will treat with equal determination, the disarmed terrorist as the victim of the attack.

I get the importance of our keeping our humanity. I understand it. But I also know that our dear Arab neighbors would not only not afford us the same privilege but probably think this is further proof of our weakness. We don't even have the courage to abuse our prisoners? Wimps, they'll laugh. Stupid, stupid Jews.

So we give our enemy prisoners access to computers and let their families visit them. We give them sunshine and education and food and really, anything to make their lives more comfortable. After all, isn't that what is expected of us? The humane thing to do? Justice requires them to sit in jail, not rot there. And all this, while Gilad Shalit remains held in silence, in darkness, with no communication with his family, no visits, not even a letter or phone call.

We are being efficient. We are being logical Go on, put the attacker and the soldier on the same helicopter. It saves resources. It saves gas. It saves time in getting the injured to medical care. And, most of all, it makes me sick to my stomach, furious, angry.

I'm tired of being right. I'm tired of being fair. I'm tired of worrying more about them than they worry about themselves, never mind how little they value our lives. I want the freedom to express my fury and I want to tell them that if you dare to blow up something and you survive, expect to lay there in agony until we've taken care of all our own, cleaned the streets, restarted the traffic. Lay there and feel the pain you have inflicted on yourself while we sit and drink some water a bit.

It's hard work cleaning up a terrorist attack. Gruesome work. Horrible. We'll get you to the hospital before you die...or not. After all, that was your plan, wasn't it? You wanted to die, to be a martyr of Islam. Fine, don't let us stand in your way.

But that makes us inhumane and occupiers and "the most vile person" according to one person who wrote to me recently. And so we continue to load the soldier and the attacker on the same helicopter when our enemies would more likely let ours die there on the side of the road unattended. Deep inside, I want to say, that maybe if they didn't see us as so weak, they would not attack us so viciously thinking that through our weakness they can achieve their goals of destruction and death for their enemy.

What they don't understand is that we do not view humanity as weakness. We do not see that loading the terrorist on the same helicopter is a weakness. We don't, but they do, and we are indeed too stupid to realize this. We don't understand their culture; they don't understand ours. We keep trying to believe we can get them to understand how we value life - but we can't.

We keep dreaming of a world in which they will think slitting the throat of an infant is wrong - but they don't live in that world.

No, we'll keep putting that soldier on the helicopter with the terrorist and wonder why we are the only ones who are amazed by the twisted irony, the lack of justice, and the misplaced humanity of it all. And they will announce to the world that an Arab was wounded by the IDF on Friday without ever mentioning that he smashed the head of a young soldier who was simply on patrol. The UN will up the numbers of wounded - one on each side if we are lucky, or more likely an Arab civilian on one side and an Israeli soldier on the other.

There is no justice here, there is only twisted ironies, misplaced humanity and stupid, stupid ethics...and a young soldier in the hospital.

8 comments:

westbankmama said...

We do it because our conscience tells us it is the right thing to do, and we need to live with ourselves afterwards. Whether or not they see it as weak is really beside the point. Should we bomb places indiscriminately just because they do? Or do we weigh the situation and bomb where we need to? When there is a terrorist attack I read a lot of people crying to "carpet bomb" Gaza, etc. But the people calling for this kind of action are not the ones who will drop the bomb. The people who DO drop the bombs, know that the action is done when there is no other alternative, and that it is done in order to save Jewish lives. They can then sleep at night. If dropping the bombs was done because of anger (as justified as it sometimes is) then there is room later for doubt.

weekilter said...

We do it because we are decent human beings who do the right thing. If you stoop to the level of "getting even" you have lost your humanity and your desire for tikun l'olam.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Yes...I know why we do it...but sometimes the why satisfies the mind, but not the heart; satisfies the conscience, but not the anger. Thanks for helping to explain to others that yes, if we stoop to their level, we can lose our humanity - and yes our desire to make the world a better place.

I guess that I make a separation between bombing as they do, and going beyond normal to help someone who has just finished trying to harm you and those you love.

perlsand said...

I agree with everything you said. It infuriates me. But what makes me even crazier is trying to convince our own-the Jewish Israelis who think things should be done that way!We have to always be better,more moral, more tolerant, more STUPID! And where does it get us? Nowhere-still hated by the whole world with more lies being told about us.

ProphetJoe said...

You do it because it is right... and the level-headed, enlightened, intelligent people who watch what's going on in Israel see it a one of the highlights of the Jewish state. Americans (of which I am proud be) didn't do it in World War II and yet we like to think that we changed the course of the war single-handedly. We see ourselves as saviors of the 20th Century. Perhaps we were, time will tell, but history (the FINAL HISTORY) will hold Israel in the highest regard for its actions against its aggressors. But I understand that's little consolation in the here are now.

Batya said...

It's a perverted, sick, faux morality, a King Saul like way of thinking. Saul was merciful to Agag/Amalek but murdered all the Kohanim in Nov.

Beni said...

I had shivers down my spine when I read this post and some of the comments.

No, we are not stupid. No, we will not give up our ethical values. No, this would not be progress.

When I first saw a menorah in the shape of Uzis (or whatever semi-automatic weapon), I thought that this was the end of religious judaism.

When I read this article and some of the comments, the same idea crosses my mind.

Some stripes of Judaism are so enthousiastic about army, militarism, weapons, that they forget some basic jewish values.

OY on our people that this disgrace befell us!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't seem to be able to use either my typepad or my livejournal identity, so I'm posting as anonymous...from Australia. I read your blog regularly and enjoy it.

Here's my two cents on this story; the thing that I noticed about it.

The attack happened on a Friday. So many Muslim attacks on non-Muslims happen on Fridays - the Muslim 'holy' day. Often on a Friday evening, after the Friday 'prayers' let out...after the imam has screeched his khutba...

I remember a case of a Muslim attacking a Jewish girl on a railway platform in Canada...on a Friday evening.

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