Legal dissymmetry, moral symmetry   --- 2012-11-16                                                                    

It is headline news again, the exchange of fire between Gaza and the state of Israel,

For the world outside this conflict, people sometimes wonder which side to take, and which side is right,

Because, never mind your convictions, in the midst of it, you are bound by your anger and fear for your life to take your own side, and this is only natural,

But for the outside world which sides with either side, it is a matter of belief, and that’s where the danger is.

In a tennis court, when world champions compete, there are video cameras now, and software, which enables the referee to track the ball to see beyond doubt where it landed: inside the white line, on it, or just outside it tangent to it,

And hence he/she can apply the rule: in black and white, muting disputation.

But a tennis game is a tennis game, ruled by its rules, and if a player is “immoral” and decides to break the rules, it is easy; he/she will be disqualified, and barred from competing.

So what are the rules of war in the world today? And which side is abiding by them?

Perhaps there is an international agreement on such rules, an international agreement between the peoples who are members of the international community, the international community which consists of states of all kinds and sizes, a state that the Palestinian people are not,

For, although they have been recognised as a people by the United Nations, after they were told back in the forties by Golda Meir that they did not exist, they are still a stateless people officially,

And if a stateless people do not play the games of war according to the international rules, the international community has only itself to blame.

That aside,

There is a dark side of this conflict that everyone wants to ignore,

Both sides are intent and working hard to turn life on the other side to hell,

Why? Because both side believe that they have a permit from their god, or should I say that it is their duty, they believe, to wreak havoc on the other side, for them to be salvaged,

Hence each side’s local morality,

The morality which permits them to cause harm and suffering, while unashamedly rejoicing to its sight: of people injured, blood spilt, children burnt and torn apart, homes destroyed … and panic and fear for everyone.

The Israelis say there is moral dissymmetry between them and the Palestinians, because they do not deliberately target civilians,

So, according to them, their actions are legal by international laws, and hence moral,

Is the ball inside the white line, on it, or just outside it tangent to it?

Never mind if children and the elderly are killed or maimed along the way. There is a definition for this kind of incident by international standards; it is the definition of “collateral damage”: a term which has been heavily used wherever civilian cities and congregations are fired at, technically to hit military targets, in surgical precision.

Welcome to the world that is ruled by definitional morality,

And right-and-wrong are determined by a video camera or a statement issued by the doer of an act,

And if you believe in a god, according to the doer of that act, it is god who ordained it and demanded it.

And judging by the scale of the damage and the ferocity of the attacks over the last decades, things are accelerating in brutality and viciousness,

If sanity does not prevail, I can only imagine the natural flow of events, when a blood bath, the like of which is unseen in the jungles, becomes inevitable, annihilating entire communities on both sides, and leaving an unforgettable mark in history:

To wake up the world to look beyond the morality that is bound by their local definitions,

And beyond their understanding of their Holy Book,

Perhaps to see that according to their Holy Book, all the people are God’s creation and that compassion is what it teaches,

And this will perhaps be a first step into Holiness which can benefit the world, instead of it being a source of hatred and destruction. 


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