Viewpoint: columnist missed the ‘teaching moment’
By Oran Reznik
The 12-word title of Mick Rhodes’ column [“Israel-Hamas war is a teaching moment, but what is the lesson?” October 13] tells you all you need to know about what’s next. This is absolutely a teaching moment. However, your difficulty in grasping the lesson results from you misunderstanding the actual teaching moment.
It was not on May 14, 1948, nor was it after the Six-Day War of 1967. That moment was at 6:30 a.m. October 7 when Hamas murdered children in front of their parents, mutilated bodies beyond recognition, took hundreds of hostages — we all know the rest.
When you lament that “atrocities are occurring on both sides,” it tells me you misunderstand the word atrocity, thinking it a synonym for catastrophe. The Nazis and ISIS and Hamas committed atrocities; deadly earthquakes are catastrophes. Rather than take a position on one barbaric act, something that is as clear as the difference between black and white, you prefer to remain in shades of grey, where any actions, no matter their severity or depravity, may be justified by circumstances. Consequently, your words “[not] to resort to ‘bothsidesism’ to avoid taking a stand” ring hollow as that is precisely what you do.
This is not hard: murdering 267 teenagers at a concert is not an act benefitting the people of Gaza; killing babies in front of their parents is not a statement about a land dispute; rape is not a form of protest. We must call out these acts for the evil they are; for if we don’t, we risk losing the moral compass which points us in the direction of never being silent in the face of evil, never standing down in the face of hate, and never, ever calling acts of terrorism understandable.
When did we lose the ability to hold two thoughts in our head simultaneously?
1) The situation of those living in Gaza has been horrible for over 50 years. In my opinion, Israel must do better in working towards a two state solution that will hopefully benefit Gazans.
2) Israel suffered (and the world witnessed) the most brutal, inhumane, barbaric attack against its civilians ever seen in our lifetimes. The attack was perpetrated by the terrorist organization Hamas, which still today vows as its goal the murdering of all Jews living in “Palestine,” aka Israel.
As to number 1, there can be much discussion, areas of disagreement, and the exchange of ideas on how best to reach a fair resolution. Number 2 requires no discussion: it was an act of pure evil which cannot be justified or explained away; it must be condemned categorically.
I admire your engaging your children in this discussion. But your angst about “how to explain the ancient grievances,” or your “lack of knowledge about the labyrinthine, longstanding underpinnings,” — what are you talking about? We do not need to resolve a centuries old complicated history to single out behavior which is beyond the pale. It feels like you are going through all these gyrations in an effort to avoid having to speak uncomfortable (for you) words of truth. No wonder you are at a loss — you have misconstrued the teaching moment by not focusing your college aged daughter, for this one moment, on the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7. Instead, “[You] talked for hours about the genesis of Israel, and our government’s long held support …”
You are correct: there are times we just don’t have the clear answers our children seek. This is not one of those times. You have been given a gift: the opportunity to teach your children the difference between right and wrong by way of a current, real world example rather than through an abstraction. Better yet, you can teach this lesson without equivocation but rather with authoritativeness and conviction. You know, like a parent does when they teach their children important life lessons like, I don’t know, maybe the difference between right and wrong, so that they grow up with the moral clarity enabling them to distinguish between the two.
Oran Reznik is a Claremont resident and member of the board of governors of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.