No Choice is a Choice

...There is no virgin willing to conceive in the heat of any bloody Sunday.
You crippled children lying in cries on Derry’s streets,
pushing your innocence to the full flush face of Christian guns,
battling the blame on each other,
do not grow tongues in your dying dumb wounds speaking my name.
I am not your prize in your death.
You have exorcized me in your game of politics.

Go home to your knees and worship me in any cloth,
for I was never tailor-made.
Who told you I was?
Who gave you the right to think it?
Take your beads in your crippled hands,
can you count my decades?
Take my love in your crippled hearts,
can you count the loss?

I in my poverty,
alone without trust,
cry shame on you
and shame on you again and again
for converting me into a bullet and shooting me into men’s hearts.

Richard Harris, There are Too Many Saviors on My Cross

If I thought there was even the slightest chance total devastation of Gaza would be the act ending this centuries long conflict, it would make accepting the consequences and cost in innocent lives easier.

But it won’t.

I would encourage you to read this op-ed by Nir Avishai Cohen. Mr. Cohen, a major in the reserves of the Israel Defense Forces, is the author of the book “Love Israel, Support Palestine.”

I’m Going to War for Israel. Palestinians Are Not My Enemy.

That Israel will prevail in this latest war is without doubt, but the sons and daughters of this war’s heroes will also undoubtedly be the heroes and victims of the next…and each generation after them until the matter is settled by words and deeds of reconciliation, not overwhelming firepower or acts of human barbarism.

At this point it would seem, in the face of such carnage, Israel has no choice but to respond militarily. But make no mistake, it is a choice they made long before the first terrorist crossed the border. And what about the next time? Or the time after that?

Understand this, whatever Israel may have done in the past can never justify the barbaric acts of the terrorists, but it will also encourage these same terrorists to commit similar acts in the future. In their minds, they justify it by cloaking it in fundamentalist religious garb.

Blood and Bullets do not respect flags

This is a self-sustaining cycle of terror.

And do not harbor any false joy in an Israeli victory. When this war ends, the balance sheet of innocent people dead on both sides will far exceed the number of Israeli soldiers who will die defending their country or the terrorists killed for triggering the conflict.

To the child killed at the point of a terrorist’s gun or to the one killed by an airstrike or artillery barrage, there is no difference. They are both dead. That is the reality of war. Nothing can ever whitewash this reality.

It is as it has always been.

…shame on you again and again for converting me into a bullet and shooting me into men’s hearts….

Any celebration of victory need be tempered by that reality. When one watches the nightly news coverage with the explosions and missiles screaming in the background, keep in mind those flames likely contain the limbs and viscera of once thriving human beings that fate has placed there and who may bear no responsibility for the cause.

Until we recognize the inherent danger of fundamental religious faiths making secular government policies, on both sides of this issue, nothing but more bloodshed in the name of one god or another—or more frighteningly, the same god interpreted differently—will continue.

Because that is what this all boils down to, an unwillingness to yield absolute belief in the sanctity of this area to one faith and the total rejection of the claims of others.

Both the terrorists and the Israelis made inevitable choices here because they have failed to seek any rational alternatives. They made their choices by eradicating any alternatives. If they have no choice it is of their own volition.

In this instance, it is easy to see Israel as the victim. But a deeper look reveals something infinitely more sinister, and troubling. One must look deep before passing judgement. And keep in mind, one always has a choice of how to act but not whether or not you accept responsibility for those choices. Making a choice is an acknowledgement there will be consequences, and they belong to you.

The real question here is not, does Israel have any choice about how to respond? The real question is what will Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, or the other involved groups do after this episode ends, all the dead are buried, and all the blood washed away?

We must honestly embrace the philosophy of Never Again!

Please share on Social Media or through any means you like. And feel free to comment, concur, criticize, challenge, or condemn. it is why I do this.

2 thoughts on “No Choice is a Choice

  1. Joe, you went into the deep end of the pool with this one. Well said. The article you open with by the major in the Israeli military is excellent. I went to Shabbat last night to support my friends in the Jewish community. The Rabbi began my acknowledging that many of us came with a mix of deep and perhaps conflicting feelings….grief for Israelis who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack and grief for those countless innocents losing their lives this night to Israeli jets. As you say so well Joe, the only way to break the cycle of violence begetting violence is to choose alternative paths leading to reconciliation. It is an imperfect, difficult and fragile path to follow. But there are examples of cycles being broken: Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa; Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland and the Marshall Plan after WW 2 where the allies chose to invest to rebuild Germany (rather than continue to punish as done after WW 1). Governments and citizens have a choice. Hatred or Reconciliation.

  2. Thanks, Kent. I made a bit of an update using some lines from a poem called, “There are Too Many Saviors on My Cross. It was about the sectarian violence between the Protestants and the Catholics with the Brits providing most of the firepower. It illustrates how we humans keep repeating the same mistakes wherever we are.

    I always remembered a line from the poem “shame on you again and again for converting me into a bullet and shooting me into men’s hearts….” and wanted to add it.

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