Koby Mandell was one of the young Israeli boys (Yosef Ish-Ran was the other) who were beaten to death with rocks while on a hike in May 2001. Koby's mother, Sherri, has done much to keep her son's memory alive. She has turned her personal grief into healing for many.
You all may not like Sherri. As one of the settlers... an American settler in the territories, and proud of it... some may call her extreme. But does that really make her an extremist? I don't think so. Sherri has made a choice. A choice not much different from other Israelis and Americans who have lost loved ones to terror have made. Sherri has chosen love over hate. She has chosen to remember her son by helping as many other victims as she can.
As an Israeli mother who lost a child to terror I know how immense grief is and how much work it is to deal with loss and keep it in a place that is surrounded by love and kindness. The pain is simply unbearable. But in my work with over 150 Israeli mothers this year, all of whom have lost children or husbands to terror, I have heard only a handful talk about anger.
The media assume that Israelis who have been struck by terror walk around filled with hate and anger and calls for vengeance. But it's not true. We walk around filled with sadness and despair. But that despair does not motivate us to hate or kill. We Jews translate our pain into sadness and a desperate need for coping, personal growth, and memorializing our children.
Contrast that to the many Arabs who choose hate, when faced with similar tragedy. Contrast somber Israeli funerals to the hate filled spectacles the Arabs produce. While the Arabs exploit death in order to fan the flames of hatred and revenge, Israelis like Sherri choose to channel their grief into love and healing. Has there ever been anything like the Koby Mandell Foundation started in Gaza? What does an Islamic charity like Hamas, do as a result of tragedy?
Conversely too many Palestinians teach their children to translate their pain into anger and vengeance. And though many argue that the Palestinians are powerless and in despair and thus forced to resort to vengeance and violence, the short-lived hudna showed us that Palestinian powerlessness is a myth.
The Palestinians can control their so-called desperation. Their calls for vengeance, their hatred, is a choice. And their leaders keep choosing hate...
...There is a chasm between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures, and though some want to ascribe it to politics, the tragic truth is that no political solution can dampen the flames of hatred that have been kindled in Palestinian society. The hate is too deep, too insistent, and too accepted.
Few journalists want to touch the story of Palestinian hate. Major media like The New York Times and The Washington Post avoid our camp - perhaps because it reveals the deep- seated difference in the two cultures.
Israelis are trying to process their grief - the Palestinians are exploiting theirs.
Do not underestimate the power of pain. Unprocessed grief can last for decades. The cynical exploitation of pain - in summer camps, schools, and in the Palestinian and international media - is a prime saboteur of any attempts at peace - and may be so for generations to come.
Israelis are working to cope with their pain. Palestinians nurture theirs, inflame it, and worship it.
When faced with grief and pain we can choose to heal broken hearts or we can choose to harden them. As long as the Arabs continue to choose to harden their hearts, as long as they continue to encourage hatred and violence, there will never be peace. If they continue to choose hatred over love, peace is impossible.
Update:Hat Tip: Solomonia
How have the people most affected by last week's bus bombing reacted? Joel Mowbray went to find out.
Given that several of the victims had belonged to this synagogue, I was intensely curious as to what I might hear at the prayer service. What was not said, though, was ultimately far more revealing.
Almost every one of the several hundred worshippers at this overflowing synagogue was swaying back and forth, seemingly consumed with an intense and unswerving faith. While their fathers were praying — I could not see the women, who were all on the floor above — little boys passed around chocolate bars and Gummi Bears. Aside from the occasional break to keep the boys from running out into the narrow aisle, the men spent the entire time praying the same prayers that have been prayed every Friday night for centuries.
There were no calls for "death to Arabs" or "death to Palestinians." There were no calls for revenge.