Hate and the War Against Terror
While I have grown used to being called a racist and a fascist — as if having some views that are similar to Rightists makes me these things — I just got called a Leftist Liberal (as if that is a curse) because I question the value of responding to terrorists out of hate.
The trigger was a Facebook post I put up after having seen a video of someone putting a piece of pig meat on a dead terrorist’s face. I wrote about how that made me sad. It made me sad that people would do this out of hatred and a sense of revenge. I was accused of being offensive, sympathizing with terrorists, taking the morally high road, and more. The discussion that ensued was, however, respectful and led me to explore a bit more about how I feel.
I look inside myself and do not find hate – not for those who committed and continue to commit vile atrocities against my people and not for the individuals in my life who have maltreated me. I mention the latter so that you will know that I have had the kind of personal experiences after which some people feel hate and therefore that I am not writing from a theoretical position.
I just do not feel hate. I don’t hate the terrorist and I don’t hate all Arabs. I don’t wish all Arabs dead and I will never join a group that chants “Death to Arabs”.
At the same time, I am relieved when a terrorist is killed. It means that that particular individual is no longer a danger to me or others.
I try to imagine what it would feel like to hate. I can use extreme anger to come close to it perhaps. It shows me the degree of energy that underlies hatred. I would, simply, rather put that energy elsewhere. At the same time, I am not aware of having made a decision not to hate.
I do not hate the Arabs. I do not love the Arabs. Love and hate seem too personal to be feelings I would have toward them. Furthermore, hate seems to have too long of a shelf-life. I get angry at each new terror attack all over again. But the anger does not morph into hatred. It runs its course: I get scared for the innocent victims involved. I get angry. I feel relief when the terrorist is neutralized either temporarily or permanently (preferably the latter). And I move on. Until the next time. What lasts is the grief for the victim, the loss of life or the loss of the life they knew until that moment.
I think hatred has a way of seething inside and not letting go. I’m glad I don’t feel hate for that reason.
Yet for me the problem with hate is not the feeling itself. People feel what they feel. I do not judge people for feeling one thing or another – do not try to change what they feel. I have no right to tell people how they should feel. And I do not appreciate people telling me what kind of person or Jew I am or am not because I do not hate Arabs, not even now, in this terrible time of terror.
For me the problem is when behaviours come out of hatred. I think the motivation behind behaviours is the most important element. When we do things out of a desire for revenge or to humiliate the other, I think we are being very personal and intimate with our enemy. We MAKE it intimate and personal. In addition, I think acting out of hatred is something done to make ourselves feel better, to feel a sense of control.
On the other hand, when the motivation behind what we do comes from a reasoned and cognitive place, whether we feel hatred or not, when we decide to do something because we anticipate it will have a particular effect that will help us in the long run, I think there is more chance for success. In this case, we are not seeking immediate gratification of some emotional need, but making it part of a long-term plan.
It was suggested that placing the pig meat on the dead terrorist’s face would mean that his otherwise heroic image could no longer be displayed around the PA as a role model or esteemed shahid. That would be a good reason for doing it. Someone else said there were no more suicide bus bombings because there was a rumour that our buses have bags of lard that will spray the terrorist upon explosion, thus preventing him or her from going to Heaven. Someone else said to do what the British are reported to have done, dip our bullets in lard or pig blood and shoot these at terrorists.
I actually like the bullet idea for its deterrence factor. It reminds me of the case of the female Yazidi combat unit that strikes extraordinary fear in the hearts of the ISIS soldiers who face them on the battle field because, like contact with a pig, being killed by a woman keeps you out of Paradise. In both these cases, the Muslim soldiers’ resolve has to be weakened when he faces an enemy who pre-empts his heavenly reward even if, in his own eyes, he acts like a shahid.
We do not need hate to engage in such manipulations. We need determination and an unwillingness to back down in the face of danger. We have that determination. Now let’s just add a little pig blood to our bullets.