This past week, as Israel has been at war, I keep coming back to the same mental picture of how I would describe what’s going on. A scenario, if you will:
A younger, smaller child and sitting next a bigger, older child, who is reading. The young child creeps up behind his older brother, and flicks his ear. The older brother looks up from his book, spins around and glares at the younger brother, who snickers and runs away. Moments later, the younger brother repeats his game. This time the older brother swats at his hand, spins and glares again. This time, he says, “cut it out, I am not in the mood to be flicked.” The little brother again snickers and runs. A moment later, the little brother returns. This time, the older brother is ready, and as his little brother raises his hand to flick, the older brother spins, grabs his arm in mid-air and stops him. And he squeezes the arm, maybe even twists it a little. And the younger brother screams for his mother and starts to cry. And when the mother intervenes, and the older brother lets go, there’s a small mark on the younger brother’s arm, but it’ll go away. And really, nobody can blame the older brother, and he won’t be punished by his mother because he was antagonized. Finally, when the mother isn’t looking, the younger brother comes back. He flicks his older brother’s ear one more time. The old brother stands up, turns around, grabs his arm and throws him voilently away. The younger brother staggers, falls against the wall and breaks his arm.
Could you blame the older brother? If you look at the incident minutely, breaking your brother’s arm for a flick on the ear sure seems “disproportionate.” But given the whole story, the “cycle of violence” could you blame the older brother for losing it? There’s only so much provocation he can take, and everyone has a limit.
And maybe it’s not a perfect metaphor, but I just keep coming back to it all week.
And another point on the so-called “cycle of violence.” My brother yesterday told me about an article he read (I don’t have a link. Feel free to post it in the comments or email it to me, and I will post it). Essentially, the writer argued about the “cycle of voilence” in the Middle East. If you take that concept for granted, that each bit of voilence has ties to and roots in the previous violence, and that escalations lead to more escalations, and the only way to stop it is for one group to cease violence against the other, then you’ve got to start looking backward. Because the solution doesn’t lie with Israel, and it never will. If you accept the cycle of violence, then you must look back to what was called the “original sin.” Cycle back through the violence, and you see that the first event to trigger the cycle of violence was an egregious and offensive affront to the entire Arab world that simply demanded a violent response: the creation of the State of Israel.
And that’s why the solution doesn’t lie with Israel. Until the Arab world, and all the terrorist groups she sponsors accepts and acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, and destroys this cycle of violence at its root, then the cycle will continue.
What does this mean for the rest of the world? It means that every European leader that denies Israel’s right to live peacefully and defend itself, denies Israel’s very right to exist. Because each time Hamas or Hezbollah launches a rocket at Israel, it is essentially saying “you have no right to exist.” And when the world denies Israel the opportunity to respond, the world is agreeing.