David Grossman – the pain and the pity

The pity is that such a gifted writer is so tangled in politics that he fails to see terrorism's danger and has abandoned his own people.

Bus flipped by tractor in Jerusalem terror attack (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bus flipped by tractor in Jerusalem terror attack
In a New York Times op-ed (“Stop the Grindstone of Palestinian-Israeli violence,” July 27, 2014), Israeli author David Grossman’s call to end violence appears to be motivated by idealism.
Grossman’s pain is authentic; he abhors violence.
The pity is that such a gifted writer is so tangled in politics (the two-state delusion) that he fails to understand the danger of Arab terrorism, and has abandoned his own people and the army in which his son sacrificed his life.
Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’ terrorism. Acknowledging the legitimacy of Israeli fears of Hamas violence, he balances it with Hamas accusations that Israel is “occupying Gaza” by prohibiting entry into Israel, restricting access to Judea and Samaria and preventing smuggling of weapons. Presenting suicide bombers and missile attacks as merely defensive weapons of the helpless and oppressed, he justifies terrorism.
“What is the response to Gazans who say that the tunnels and rockets are their only remaining weapons against a powerful Israel? In this cruel and desperate bubble, both sides are right.” This confuses perpetrators with victims.
Does preventing Hamas from acquiring weapons give them right to murder Israelis? Is Hamas terrorism justifiable because Israel is more powerful? This turns morality inside out.
Grossman equates the two sides: “They both obey the law of the bubble – the law of violence and war, revenge and hatred.” That seems to characterize Arab societies, but what evidence is there that it is true for Israelis? Grossman naively asks: “How can it be that we have been suffocating together inside this bubble for over a century?” Inside that bubble of Arab violence and terrorism, Jews have been building a state, while Arabs try to destroy it. For Grossman, apparently, it’s all the same.
“How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality?” Grossman makes no reference to Israeli assistance, concessions and negotiations with the Palestinian Administration – which pays Hamas’ salaries – nor PA incitement, nor the tolerance of the Israeli branch of Hamas, nor the daily supply of water, electricity, food and building materials that pour from Israel into Gaza, nor Hamas/Islamic Jihad missile and terrorist attacks, nor their unambiguous statements to wipe out Israel.
He accuses Israel of ignoring “the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas” – although there is no evidence to support his conclusion.
This is a “conflict that could have been resolved years ago,” he says simplistically, without discussing the responsibilities of Arabs and Palestinians for what has happened. If only Israel would “alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza, by making peace with the Palestinians [which] can also be a basis for peace with the other Arab states.”
We assume that means compliance with all of their demands: withdrawal to the 1947 UNGA Partition Plan lines, or the Armistice lines of 1949, the return of all Arab Palestinian “refugees” and their descendants to Israel, and dividing Jerusalem.
He seems oblivious to Hamas’ weapons smuggling supplied by Iran, Hezbollah and Islamists, the role of Hamas terrorists in fomenting terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula, and assisting Muslim Brotherhood groups in Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. Should Hamas be given a safe harbor in a failed state? Nor does Grossman fault UNRWA for allowing its facilities to be used by terrorists, and using civilians as human shields.
Grossman seems incapable of condemning Arab and Islamist terrorism, the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, placing rocket launchers and weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques. Instead, he rationalizes it as a response to legitimate grievances.
This misses the moral point: nothing justifies the deliberate targeting of civilians. Nothing. There is no excuse for engaging in and advocating genocide and violent jihad; such behavior is evil.
What makes Grossman’s argument dangerous is that by defending Hamas terrorism because of what he considers to be legitimate demands, any and all Islamic terrorism – including al-Qaida and the 9/11 attacks – can be justified. If attacking Israel as the “Little Satan” which seeks to crush Gazans can be justified, then attacking America as the “Great Satan” can also be justified.
Blaming Israel for not succumbing to Arab demands and refusing to accept the reality of Arab/Hamas/Islamist terrorism threatens not only Israel’s existence, but encourages the forces of savagery in the region and around the world.
Using Grossman’s metaphor, upon the grindstone of terrorism we can all be ground into ashes and dust.
We need Grossman’s eloquence and sensitiveness; but, even more, we need the truth.
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist. His collection of short stories, As far as the eye can see, will be published in September by the New English Review Press.