Sago Boulevard

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Chapter in the Book of Peace

As should come as no surprise, Elie Wiesel offers a tempered, intelligent, and insightful perspective on the Disengagement from Gaza. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles into Israel, Wiesel remembers seeing Palestinians dancing in the streets and on the roofs of their houses.
I saw them. I was in Jerusalem, and I could see what was happening in the Arab quarter of the Old City. It happened again later, each time a suicide terrorist set off a bomb on a bus or in a restaurant.

But Wiesel's Judaism demands a higher standard:
And here I am obliged to take a step back. In the tradition I claim, the Jew is ordered by King Solomon "not to rejoice when the enemy falls." I don't know whether the Koran suggests the same.

He then dares to imagine a Palestinian leadership that would embrace and encourage such a standard of decency:
Let's imagine that, faced with the tears and suffering of the evacuees, the Palestinians had chosen to silence their joy and their pride, rather than to organize military parades with masked fighters, machine guns in hand, shooting in the air as though celebrating a great battlefield victory. Yes, imagine that President Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues, in advising their followers, extolled moderation, restraint, respect and a little understanding for the Jews who felt themselves struck by an unhappy fate... I will perhaps be told that when the Palestinians cried at the loss of their homes, few Israelis were moved. That's possible. But how many Israelis rejoiced?

Yet, even the crisis in the Holy Land, like the Holocaust he survived, fails to shake his remarkable optimism. "Gaza," he says, "after all, is but one chapter in a book that must ultimately be about peace."

(via Seth Chalmer)