The highest ideal espoused in Rabbi Shmuel Bloch's argument, 'Unity - It's surreal and frightening'; [South African Jewish Report, Sept 10, 2014], is cohesiveness of group politics rather than questioning the direction, politics and morality of the group in a personal quest for truth. Can good be expected to follow from this premise or is such a stance fraught with risk?
The rabbi reports that 'unity became even stronger and tighter' once Israelis learned the tragic fate of the three Jewish youths who were kidnapped in the occupied West Bank when hitchhiking, presumably back to their respective homes, from a settlement religious school.
There is an enormous gap the rabbi leaves unexplained regarding how the country went from the crime of the former, to an entire country choosing to wage war:
'Then the rockets started falling and Operation “Protective Edge” began...The entire country supported the government and the army with almost universal approval.'
Without questioning, we would not know that tensions began to rise not with the abduction and murders of the three Jewish teens in June, but three weeks before, on Nakba Day, May 15th. The IDF shot and killed two Palestinian teens in cold blood at a demonstration outside of Ofer Prison. One of the youths was shot in the back. Both were unarmed, it was in broad daylight and there were many witnesses to these events.
After the three Jewish teens went missing, this gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the excuse he needed to ramp up tensions further by instituting what was the equivalent of a Palestinian Kristalnacht in the occupied West Bank on the pretext of searching for the teens. There was a clear purpose in instigating such provocations. In recent days, Palestinian political leadership of rival political parties Hamas and Fatah signaled their intention to reconcile. Unified, Natenyahu et al could no longer claim that they had no 'partner for peace'. Peace means the cessation of further ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestinian land.
Hundreds of West Bank homes were violently broken into in the middle of the night. IDF soldiers caused gratuitous wanton damage to households; stole money and other valuables; viciously beat people; and arrested hundreds without charge - including many in the Hamas party leadership. And with this for background, how things devolved becomes far more clear. Rabbi Bloch's timeline of events makes absolutely no sense otherwise.
No logical person would ever accept the premise that oppressing the Other could foster greater prospects for peaceful security for oneself.
There is no logical correllary between a criminal investigation into the kidnappings and murders of three teenagers versus the ultimate crime of aggressive war on a captive civilian population.
The 1.8 million people of The Gaza Strip have been suffering under an illegal Israeli military occupation for years. This latest military slaughter caused the deaths of over 500 children alone. Israel's 'Operation Protective Edge' was instigated by Israel, the violence was wanton, the IDF committed many war crimes, Israeli political leaders openly call for genocide [or the practical equivalent, as seen in Deputy Minister of Defense, Dany Alon's recent inane, amoral tweet:
The highest ideal is not group cohesiveness. Cohesiveness is for cowards. The highest ideal is risking rejection by the group by pointing out the errors of the group's leadership.
Some of the best blogs [of which there are many]: Mondoweiss; Richard Silverstein.
Organizations: Independent Jewish Voices; Jewish Voices for Peace