An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. So said India's spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi. I can't help but remember this quote as I watch events unfold in the Middle East. I speak particularly of the on going escalation of conflict between Israel and the people of Palestine.
In June this year, 3 Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and cruelly murdered by as yet unknown criminals. Israel blamed Hamas for the horrific act, and warned of retribution. Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian teenager was dead. Tensions escalated in Palestine, rioting ensued. Israel threatened Hamas, while Hamas threatened Israel. Cue the firing of rockets from Hamas, air and naval attacks from Israel, and multiple Palestinian deaths. My heart bleeds for the parents of the three murdered teenagers. I weep for the parents of the murdered Palestinian teenager. I cry for the families of the 180 people who have reportedly been killed as a result of Israel's attacks in Palestine. There are no winners in this. Killing one more, or hundreds of people will not bring back those poor boys. Rather, the continued bombardment of a people who consider themselves to be under oppression, is more likely to breed further resistance, hate and revenge down the line. On the other hand, the continued firing of tickets towards Israel will only serve to increase that country's reserve to defeat the "terrorists".
An eye for an eye will keep the middle east in a perpetual state of war, unless one side succeeds in completely destroying the other. Palestine is not capable of destroying Israel, and Israel is not likely to pursue full-fledged genocide against Palestine. Therefore, the current course of action is destined to fail and to be self-defeating for both sides.
The only hope for peace in the region is the same path that brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa; forgiveness, truth and reconciliation. The chances of this happening seem very slim indeed, but until this prospect is entertained by both sides, we are likely to keep seeing this cycle of violence played out over and over again.
I wish it were different. I wish we would "turn the other cheek" instead of seeking "an eye for an eye". I wish for peace in a broken world.