Insensitivity to the future victims of today’s violence

It’s worth repeating that we should all be working and/or (at the very least) hoping for the safe return of three teenagers who were kidnapped days ago in the occupied territories. Now the question has been asked: Is it insensitive to talk about building a just peace based on self-determination for all peoples right now?

It is insensitive to all of the past, present, and future victims of aggression here to avoid talking about the context of this kidnapping as well as the ensuing rise in violence. It is insensitive to steer clear of the conversation on how to stop violence and end the occupation. It is insensitive at a time like this – while saying loud and clear that those three students must be returned safe, sound, and soon – to pretend that all of this is happening in a vacuum, because that is a game that leads to more hate and violence.

As some steer clear of talk about the broader context, crass politicians like the Prime Minister dictate the dominant discourse. His story is focused on blaming instead of searching, and that is somehow acceptable, while looking for real answers is not? As he works to deepen divides, criticism is aimed at those working toward critical understanding of the situation, and perhaps a just peace. It matters that there is an occupation and that in the West Bank one set of people are protected by democratic rights while another lives under martial law with barriers, checkpoints, and soldiers running their lives, and no, acknowledging that fact does not make you somehow care less about the safe return of those kidnapped teenagers.

Nothing justifies the kidnapping of these three teenagers – proponents of a just and peaceful future must actively condemn it and other acts of violence – and it takes a lot to feel pain here and now, while striving to look forward. I have no doubt that we (humans) have that capacity. As well, there is something important in the moment(s) of just feeling and certainly some need just that. However, we should be calling for an end to the occupation in the times when Israelis have forgotten that it exists and in the times when it is hard to hear. Here’s the thing about calling for real and fundamental change: We have to be for it all the time. If we avoid the discussion about the roots of violence right now, we are being insensitive to the future victims of today’s violence.

A. Daniel Roth is an educator and journalist living in South Tel Aviv. You can find more of his writing and photography at allthesedays.org and follow him on twitter @adanielroth 

2 Responses to “Insensitivity to the future victims of today’s violence”

  1. Dear Mr. Roth,
    Thank you for this article. I agree with it 100%, but would like to extend its message a little further. Why do so many Israelis (and diaspora Jews as well) feel it is inappropriate at this time to discuss a just peace, but there is no such concern, for example, when two Palestinian teens were shot with live ammo by the IDF last week? Israelis and the diaspora Jewish community were 100% for continuing peace talks and never paused for a second despite the fact that Palestinian children are being taken from their homes in the middle of the night and taken away from their families without any rights under military law. It seems that despite everyone’s opposition to violence, that concern is only heightened when Israelis are the victims of violence. The Palestinians, on the other hand, continue to hold weekly non-violent, civil disobedient demonstrations for almost 10 years now despite the constant and consistent violent response by the IDF. Their commitment to nonviolent resistance seems a lot more heartfelt to me because despite being met with either daily violence or the daily threat of violence, they remain steadfastly committed to it.

    “Here’s the thing about calling for real and fundamental change: We have to be for it all the time. If we avoid the discussion about the roots of violence right now, we are being insensitive to the future [Israeli/Jewish] victims of today’s violence.”


    Lisa · June 16th, 2014 at 12:39 pm
  2. “Nothing justifies the kidnapping of these three teenagers – proponents of a just and peaceful future must actively condemn it and other acts of violence”

    Proponents of justice must have the courage to distinguish between the violence of the oppressor and the violence of the oppressed. If you condemn this act of resistance either you are stating your principled objection to all acts of violent resistance, or you are putting yourself in the position to judge when it is appropriate for the oppressed to use acts of violent resistance against the ones who oppress them and occupy their land.

    The PLO has overwhelmingly although not exclusively pursued the path of peace since their first treaty with Israel in 1981. The unwillingness of the Israeli people to elect leaders who will settle the conflict on the basis of international law puts pressure on Palestinians who are committed to justice to turn back towards violence.


    Tristan Laing · June 17th, 2014 at 12:54 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik