Respect others in your expression
Re: Safety and security, Feb.3
To the Editor:
Ms. Haidar writes very eloquently about the trials and tribulations of growing up in South Lebanon. What she and many other students may not realize is that the same paragraph may be used to describe the lives of Israeli school children. How many school buses have been blown up by terrorists? How many katyusha rockets have fallen on the cities and kibutzim of Northern Israel, causing blood-shed and destruction? It is easily forgotten that Syria used the Golan Heights to shell Northern Israel continuously until its capture in the 1967 war. The fact is, we are the same. We have suffered through wars, fought for our rights and felt the burning hate of the opposing side. Understanding this concept, as difficult as it must be to accept, is the first step in reconciliation and peace.
One must see that Israelis and diaspora Jews live under a constant dichotomy. On one hand, we support democratic principles such as freedom of expression. On the other hand, after 2000 years of persecution, marginalization, forced conversion, torture and/or murder at the hands of virtually every nation and religion, we must have a country to call our own, a place where we can run if the world threatens us again. Half a century of fair democracy can not offset 20 centuries of bloody education. The need for survival must supersede the need for fairness. How strongly a person feels about each of these two sides is a good predictor of his/her political views.
As the son of Israeli parents, I have grown up listening to stories of life under constant threat of war. I have heard about the "evils" of the other side, the impossibility of trust and understanding. But even as I was immersed in the propaganda required to develop a desire to defend one's country against its "enemies," my parents instilled in me the principles of compassion and respect. A garish protest, such as the one by the "silent" student, shows a fundamental lack of respect for fellow students' beliefs. A candle-light vigil would have been much more elegant and undeniable and more effective at triggering intelligent discussion. But the protestor was not interested in discussion, but rather in formenting argument and disharmony and scoring political points. Such behaviour is unfortunate and I hope it is never repeated.