Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You Cannot Whip The Lion

You have caged the lion and consider yourself its master for having "tamed" the beast. It stalks about within its cage, it may glower at you, and howl, but it is in there and you are out here, and you are its master.

Then, one day, it lashes out at you. You feel the hot rake of its claws, hear the terrible gnashing of its teeth, feel the press of its rage.

And you whip it. Again. And again. And again. You force it back. You consider yourself lucky, but once more, you are the master.

Until it does it again. And again. And again.

The caged animal, bereft of home, cut off from the world it knows, unable to move freely, kept behind bars... you may drive it back a dozen times, but each time you erode a little more of the fear, turning hopelessness into rage.

One day, the lion will best you. One day, it will corner you. One day, in your self-assured rush to show your power over it, the lion will strike with all it has left, released of the fear of dying because it is already dead inside.

If you are an Israeli, and you have watched the rockets arc away from Gaza on your television, or heard the boom of them thudding impotently, you may think, sitting there in the comfort of your couch, that you are masters of the Palestinians. And it's true... as far as it goes. With each year, they are more hemmed in, more penned up, stripped of freedom to move, to be, to grow, and that can be considered mastery.

But then the rockets come.

Or Jewish boys die.

Perhaps you should ask yourself: are we truly masters here?

When you hold a people down, when you corner them, corral them, sanction them, that is not mastery, that is inhumanity. You cannot expect a people to be reasonable, to act reasonably, when they are squashed down into fetid and squalid suffering. You can "cleanse" your soul by claiming they brought it upon themselves, but who holds the keys to cage and who lives in the cage?

It is safe to say that most Israelis agitating for action have never seen Gaza, been behind its checkpoints, roamed its crowded roads and seen the camps. They have never smelled the desperation of a people trying to survive on the scraps that are flung their way. When you turn a people into a caricature, when you deny them their basic humanity, it is hubris to believe that peace is ever attainable, even though you can have it any time you want simply by dropping the whip.

Hamas gets its power directly from the Israeli Prime Minister and Knesset, when they hoarily declare the intransigence of the Palestinian people, and trumpet the need to, once more, "cripple Hamas' ability to commit atrocities." Hamas, dripping hatred for the Jews and the State of Israel, drag "their people" into the fight, to splash blood upon the ground, so they can lustily decry the violence, even as they launch more rockets. And the people of Gaza, more pawns than players, go along with it, because they are tired of being penned up. Israel obliges Hamas by dropping bombs on women and children in the pen, in the name of pacification and the end of "terrorism."

It is a cycle of violence that will know no end until Gaza is but a smoking hole.

I know, what right have I, the non-Jewish American, to criticize. I, too, sit and watch the rockets fly and the bombs fall from the comfort of my couch. The distance, though, allows perspective, and paints the scene so clearly, that my human heart is bursting with indignation at Israel for their ham-handedness and Hamas for its stubborn foolishness. The only people who truly suffer are a people who have done nothing but suffer for decades, while this dance of destruction sweeps around them and deprives them of life.

Say what you will, defend your side as you choose, but all humanity loses where we stand by and say nothing. So I will have my say, I will condemn the Israeli bloodbath in Gaza, I will shake my fist at Hamas for their naked cowardice, and I will implore Israel to drop the whip, because you cannot whip the lion forever and hope to live in peace.