Chaya Lester

Feeling ‘Peaced Off’?

Photo by Pawel Kuczynski
Photo by Pawel Kuczynski

I have a phrase reserved for how I feel in contentious times like these. “Peaced off”. Loosely defined as: That confused, somewhat shameful yet angry feeling that happens when you get punched in the face and in response bystanders ask why you don’t have more compassion for your assailant’s bloody knuckles.

Please understand, I am a peace maker. I’ve gone faithfully to interfaith gatherings. I make peace-minded videos like this one.

And yet, there is a line. A subtle and all too easily twisted line. Between pursuing peace and getting played by the darkness. And when that line gets twisted, well, I get peaced off.

The photo above says it all – the dove of peace getting co-opted by the vultures of war.

The peace doves are all those wonderful liberally-minded individuals and influencers abroad. Many of them are friends whose ideals I share, whose work I admire, whose faces are radiant & whose food is organic. Dear liberal friends, I am typing gingerly lest I offend you….because I care you and your opinions matter to me. And so please forgive me my honesty.

But your calls for compassionate de-escalations scare the hell out of me.

We have weathered thousands of Gazan rockets raining down on Israel, but what has pained me most? The pummel of Facebook posts calling for Israel to halt its aggression. As Gazan children perished as human shields…as the world looked on with horror when another school was bombed for the launch pad in its backyard. What most peaced me off was the launch of another naïve long-distance call for peace.

Pointing fingers at the Israeli army might be convenient and ‘woke’, but it is dangerous. Supporting the under-dog is admirable, until the under-dog turns rabid and left free to roam the neighborhood streets.

Remember the Menendez brothers, circa 1990? Two young men who brutally murdered their parents to get their inheritance. They begged the jury for mercy basically based on the fact that they were but poor pitiful orphans. The children of abusive parents. Their defense lawyers knew just how to play off the kind compassion of the court, banking on the goodness of people’s hearts. Skewed sympathy let them nearly get away with man-slaughter.

And so too in Israel. We see the daily butchering of justice in the name of the world’s most deceptive form of compassion.

Just recall the days of ISIS…they were such straight-forward enemies. No room for doubt or confusion there. Just blatant evil, black-hearted horror shows. So different from the evil free-floating in the ether. This beguiling blackness garbs itself in the most stylish of greys. This evil feeds off of the world’s well-intentioned moral confusion. It feasts on misplaced compassion, political-correctness, muddled morality.

All these lofty ideals of peace & reconciliation are admirable; but become lethal weapons in the hands of maniacal regimes like Hamas. Those ideals may be sacrosanct in the streets of America or Europe, but here in Israel, when your enemy is a psychopathic government whose sole mission is to destroy you, you simply can not apply the same peaceful paradigm.  It would be disastrous.

So, my dear friends with your well-intentioned compassion and flowers in your hands, yes let’s convene another peace gathering and I will be there with bells on. But before that let us be discerning and draw clear lines. All is not a wash of oneness, equivalencies, equalities. There are cancers that can not be cured by chanting. Conflicts with madmen can not be quashed through calm diplomacy. Aggressive medicine can sometimes be the most compassionate treatment for the disease.

The time is long overdue for us to lead the doves away from the vultures’ company.

About the Author
Psychotherapist, inspirational speaker, wordsmith, performance artist & Co-Director of Jerusalem's Shalev Center. Chaya lives in the heart of Jerusalem with her husband R'Hillel & their 4 energetic children. Read more pieces like this in real-life book form:
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