Evil Begets Evil
His name was Mohammad Abu Khedair. He was seventeen years old.
They were named Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar. They were on their ways home from school.
It has been a confusing two weeks. First, three Israeli teenagers were abducted on their way home from school. On Monday, their bodies were found south of Jerusalem. In what some have labeled a “retribution killing,” a Palestinian youth was similarly abducted off the streets of Jerusalem and burned to death. His body was found on Wednesday.
Of course, as with any crisis situation, information comes at a premium. While some Palestinians largely blame Israeli extremists for the abductions and murders, some Israelis, Netanyahu included, see the murders as a Hamas machination, a political act intended to gain some upper hand or the other. At the end of the day, we may never know the true identities of those guilty. Unfortunately, it might not even matter, as there are certainly those on the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the conflict who will use these events to confirm their worst fears about the “other side” and justify more suffering, more fear, more hate.
They say that hate begets hate, and that evil begets evil. But such a stale saying imparts a logic to the pointless killings of four teenagers in Israel and Palestine. Such episodes only serve as further examples of the meaningless cycle of violence that pervades the Promised Land, and demonstrate the disgusting willingness of both sides to sustain a human cost in order to achieve a political “victory.”
Despite rumblings of a Third Intifada rising in the wake of Wednesday’s murder and implications of a “retribution killing” by Israeli settlers as revenge for the deaths of the three Israeli boys, not all is bad. For the first time in a while, both Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinians agree on one thing: the murder of Mohammad Abu Khedair is a tragedy, and that his murderers will be brought to justice. We can only hope that he means it.
The time for trite condolences and condemnations is long gone. If Netanyahu and Hamas leaders want their people to be safe, it is time to come to a mutually uncomfortable situation: compromise. Undoubtedly, the situation in Israel/Palestine is complicated, and each side has legitimate grievances. So long as both sides of the conflict remain equally unbending, the status quo of Israel/Palestine will remain: dead teenagers and dying dreams.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, perhaps one of the most provocative and meaningful voices of compassion and mediation on the planet has long been an advocate of forgiveness. While compromise could make a political deal work, without compassion, such a deal will never come to fruition. It’s certainly a long shot, and in the weeks to come, the political leaders of Israel and Palestine may prove once more that they prioritize political victories over human suffering. But perhaps, a Palestinian mother will see Mohammad Khedair in her son, or an Israeli uncle will see Eyal Yifrach in his nephew. Perhaps they realize the decades long conflict simply isn’t worth the human cost. Perhaps the pointless deaths of four young men will not have to be remembered in vain. Perhaps they can spark real change.