Victim Consciousness is a Consciousness of War
âSo you are a Moroccanâ told me the young Arabic woman in the mourners shade âgo back to Morocco! You are not from here!â. We were a group of six people, Jewish, most of us Rabbis, all of us students of our late Rebbe Rabbi Zalman Schakter Shalomi who passed just some days ago. We met in the mourning Shivâa ritual in Jerusalem that was held by Rabbi Ruth and Michael Kagan for all the students of Reb Zalman. Gabriel Meyer came with the idea to go visit the Abu Hadir family, that their son, Mohamad, was kidnaped last week by Jews from the street in his town Shoâafat, and was burned alive as a revenge for the kidnaping and murdering of the three Jewish kids two weeks before by Palestinians from Hebron.
Lisa Naomi Beth Talesnick, who was playing a wedding melody on the harp for Reb Zalmanâs Sacred Union with the Divine Light, arranged it through some connections she had with the family through her work place as a teacher in the Arabic high-school. Some of us decided to go. It felt like the right thing to do as a direct line from Reb Zalmanâs Shivâa: doing something we know he would have done if he could.
We were escorted in by family members who met us in entrance to Shoâafat. They brought us to the big shade of mourners. A line of mourners was standing there and we went and shook the hand of each of them, expressing our sadness and condolences. The father of the boy stood in the middle. Tall, present man, red eyes, just came back from meeting with Abas in Rammalla. Then we were taken to the women mourners hut. The mother set there, surrounded by other women, family and friends.
The noble woman in purple is the mother of Mohamad. âWhy did they have to burn him alive?âŚâ
We were invited to sit. One of the women started to talk strongly to us in English: âwho will protect us now? I am afraid for my own son now!â the fear was real. Just like the fear of parents in the Jewish side of town, yet here it was mixed with the fear from the Israeli police and Israeli authorities. Then she got political: âthey took our land and built the local train passing here in the middle of Shoâafat. We do not want it here! They didnât build it for us, they built it for the settlers, for those who killed our son! If we go on this train the Jews give us bad looks. We do not need they transportation. We have our ownâŚ â many of the other women there were nodding.
Â We told them that we hear the pain, and that we are here because we and many many others are so ashamed that this thing could even happen. We told them we are Rabbis, and that we come from the mourning ritual of our Rabbi who just died, who was himself a man of peace. We told them we will pass their massage to our communities. They noded and thanked us.
We received many thanks from women and man from the family, telling us how important it is for them that we came to visit. They even invited us to stay and dine with them the âIftarâ â the breaking of the fast of Ramadan after sunset. It was so touching. The mother of the murdered kid (dressed in purple in the picture) was very noble all the time. Heart broken and opened she felt to me. We looked at each other many times and I saw how she takes it in with sad respect. It was heart braking to even think what she must feel. âwhy did they have to burn him aliveâ? she askedâŚ
âThose who did it, they are not human beingsâ said another woman there. And I, who heard it so many times said by Jews regarding the Arabs (âthey are not humans.. they are animalsâ) and regarding the Nazis, I knew that we ARE ALL just humans. And that IS what humans are capable of doing to eachother. Humans can love and humans can be so afraid that they can think that by murdering the âotherâ they do something good. Those humans can be Germans, Polish, Arabs, Africans or Jews. We are all just very human. 13 years of retreats in Auschwitz with Roshi Berney Glasman and the Zen Peacemakers helped me realize it. The Nazis were human as of any other human being.Â Dehumanizing the perpetrator helps the victim justify any act of violence, later on, towards those who are ânot humansâ in their eyes.
Â When we were about to leave, a young woman, leaning on the wall asked me who we are. She could not accept that we are for peace and we live in Israel. Not in the west bank, in Israel! âwhere did you come from?â she asked me. I told her that my own family came 200 years ago from Morocco, thinking that it will surprise her, but it didnât. âyou should go back to where you came fromâ she said. âso we cannot live here in peace, you and i?â I asked. âyes we canâ she answered âunder a Palestinian stateâ. When I asked her when did her family immigrate to this land she said ânever. We were always here. We are Canaanietsâ. I heard it before, the distortion of history that happens amongst the Palestinians to justify themselves is sad and frightening. But I knew that it is not the time for argue. I came to share with them the brokenness of the heart over the murders, and not to have a political discussion. I told her how sad I am for all that had happened. She nodded.
For me it was another lesson in how being a victim actually serves the ego in gaining âpointsâ for its causes. I see it over and over again, with Jews and with Arabs. I see it with men and with women in my work of relationships and love issues. We all try to convince ourselves how right we are because âthe otherâ is so âwrongâ, and by that justify ourselves and gain some points.
The war is over only when we dare to not be a victim anymore. And then â it is over in a second.Victim consciousness is a consciousness of war.Â It justify war as a âdefenseâ and creates more and more war. That is why the ministry of war in Israel is called the ministry of DefenseâŚ.
Â People tend to think that in peace there is no perpetrator. I think that in peace there is actually no victim. All the rest just unfolds from there.
I felt that from the parents of Mohamed Zâl. By allowing Israelis to come and visit them they elevated themselves a bit from the victim-defensive-aggressive loop. i thank them for that, and pray we all find the way to take full responsibility for our own life experience and stop the victim story, that is, truly, a boring one already.
The group was: Lisa, Dawn Cherie Ezrahi, Rabbi Menachem Kalus, Rabbi David Ingber, Gabriel Meyer and myself:
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