Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crossing Lines

Last night I was checking my email when I heard the escalating voices of my 16 year-old and 13 year-old in yet another sibling squabble. Before I could find out what was going on between them, I heard the 13 year-old cry in the wounded sort of way that let me know he'd been hurt. "What happened?" I asked in the weary tone of a mother who has seen too many battles erupt between her children and who has learned that such battles are a fact of family life.

Moshe, the 16 year-old came right out with it: "I hurt him and I know it's wrong, but you need to know why I hurt him."

Um. No I don't. Which is what I have been telling Moshe for years.

There is no excuse for physical violence between brothers. Period. There is a relevant passage in the bible, Exodus 2:13: "Lamah Takeh Rayecha," "Why do you smite your friend?"

Moshe was punished with the loss of the computer for two days. That's pretty harsh, considering he's as much a media addict as any normal 16 year-old today. But punishment aside, I continue to puzzle over how I can get the concept across to him that violence in any form against a brother is unacceptable. No excuses. Ever.

This morning, a relevant thought came to me. In all the various cop shows I like to watch with my husband: Cold Case, The Closer, Castle, Lie to Me, and The Mentalist, there is always a point where the criminal breaks down and confesses the murder. The murderer's invariable response is to try to persuade the interviewer that the murder was justified. At the end of the heartfelt confession, the murderer is always surprised when he is handcuffed and his rights read to him.

He'd thought it was working: he'd thought he'd made the case for justifiable homicide and earned a get out of jail free card.

But no. The criminal is never right. While we may even sympathize with the murderer's claim of, "He done me wrong," we can never give ultimate approval to the ultimate act that crosses the line that must not be crossed. Even so, the murderer always gives it a good college try. He tries to cajole us into taking his side.

Moshe loves cop shows every bit as much as his parents do, so I thought telling him this thought I'd had might help him view his behavior in a different light. I'm still thinking over how I will broach the subject with him for maximum impact. But I think he will know exactly what I mean when I talk about the invariable denouement of all those cop shows and get the point I am trying to make. Murder/violence, has no ultimate justification except in self-defense.

Now, speaking of violence and crossing lines, I don't know why this happens, but it sometimes seems as though everything I read within a certain time period is interrelated. And that's what happened today. I came across an article by Alan Dershowitz about Gilad Atzmon, a self-professed self-hating Jew putting in an appearance at the Friends Seminary.

I was appalled. I assumed Friends Seminary to be a Quaker institution. How could a Quaker institution be hosting someone like Atzmon whose entire being is dedicated toward the elimination of Jews and the Jewish State? To my mind, Quakers were gentle, non-violent people. How could they actively ally themselves with someone so filled with hate?

I googled Friends Seminary and found a link to a statement by the principal of the institution explaining that Atzmon had only been invited to the school in his capacity as a musician. The statement was persuasive and I was relieved. Until a few moments later when I came across this item on the subject posted by CAMERA. I realized then that the principal's statement was a whitewash. Hosting a person like Atzmon, no matter in what capacity, had to be seen as a statement against Jews and the State of Israel. There was simply no other light in which to see this event: Atzmon is just too controversial a figure.

"Friends," thought I, thinking of the placid face that appears on every package of Quaker oats. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

I had posted all three links to Facebook: the Dershowitz article, the principal's statement, and the CAMERA blog piece. What I was really hoping was that my friend Rivkah Moriah would weigh in and shed some light on the Quaker response to doings in the Middle East. Rivkah was raised a Quaker but today is an Orthodox Jew whose son Avraham David Moses (May Hashem Avenge his Blood) was gunned down by a terrorist as the 16 year-old studied Talmud in the library of Mercaz HaRav, the seminary adjacent to his high school.
Avraham David Moses H"YD

Rivkah did see my Dershowitz posting and my half-formed thoughts on the subject. She responded:

"Quakers, as a group, have become very anti-Israel. They have bought the, 'Palestinians as victims, Israelis as aggressors,' propaganda, and many of them have stopped even paying attention to facts. It really does go against their heritage.

According to Quaker dogma, they should be pro-peace, anti-violence, but much of the community has taken on a Goldstone approach to the conflict. Not all of them, my mother for example. She loves Israel, is not against Palestinians, and is against violence. She tries to be open to hearing news and opinions that she didn't expect. She knows a surprising amount of Israeli history, knows how biased the Brittish were while 'implementing' the mandate, and she is aware that some Arabs are committed to destroying Israel.

But she is careful about what she says in certain circles, because she has sometimes been attacked for voicing a perspective like this. People who purport to be peace-loving and anti-violence, but who attack my mother for having her own, informed, opinion, should be ashamed of themselves. It's bad enough her grandson was murdered. She shouldn't have to see him turned into the aggressor.

... there is a surprising amount of flux between Quakers and Jews, but there is this aspect, as well. It is good you are paying attention, Varda, because the cultured intellectuals who advocate for ruthless killers should be condemned when there is carnage.

It also [Quaker philosophy] to a degree, has affected my hard-wiring. Nevertheless, I choose the Jewish approach that, when someone comes to kill you (and is thereby a rodef) kill him first. David Shapira is a hero."

I googled the phrase "Quaker Palestine" and was flooded with hit after hit of strong Quaker anti-Israel feeling. How had I not realized the depth of Quaker hatred toward Israel? I found, for instance, this long list of articles under the heading "Perspectives" on a website called, "Quakers With a Concern for Palestine-Israel Working for a Just and Lasting Peace." Every single article in this section was from an anti-Israel source. They might as well have labeled the page in the singular, since only a single perspective was offered: the anti-Israel perspective.

I had a vague memory I must have pushed away of Richard M. Nixon's Quaker background and his ardent anti-Semitism. I guess I knew all along that the Friends were only posturing in their stance of non-violence. The friendly face on the oatmeal package belied a creed bent on supporting suicide bombers, terrorists, and jihad.

I found Quaker website after Quaker website that blamed the victims of terror for their own deaths because of some supposed occupation that even the so-called Palestinian Arabs state does not exist. As recently as January 4th, 2012, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar said that Gaza is not under occupation. But our "friends" the Quakers, apparently know better and tell us that suicide bombings and Avraham David Moses' killing, for instance, is due to a root cause which must be addressed to restore peace to the area: occupation. 

So what if the Arabs themselves say there is no occupation? The Quakers are still going to stick to their narrative.

Which makes me wonder what the heck Dershowitz was doing, sending his daughter to study at Friends Seminary in the first place. 

But back to Moshe and his sibling squabble: the terrorist always justifies his terror, whether it is an older sibling terrorizing his younger sibling, the confessed murderer on a fictional television cop show, or the Quakers talking about getting to the root of the problem when they look the other way in response to Arab terrorism of Jews. 

But in every case, a line has been crossed that puts a person squarely into the realm of evil. My son is still young and I still have a chance to impart an important lesson to him about crossing lines and choosing good. I pray that he will learn the strength to always choose the right side of that line.

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