Outside of the box
First, some basic ideas, then the new ones.
Our brave and clever soldiers are cleaning out Jenin (occupied West Bank by the Palestinian Authority) from terrorists, their infrastructure, and their weapons. That follows what our Sages advise us: When someone sets out to murder you, you kill him first. Unlike other religions that preach turning the other cheek (we cannot turn cheeks after being dead) and glorifying martyrdom. The Torah tells us to live (Leviticus 18:5).
I think that these terrorists did not grow up (most of them barely, still teenagers) nor lived in a vacuum. I don’t see a difference between the attitudes toward Jews in present-day Jenin and Germany 90 years ago.
The ‘love’ for Jews is not growing in Jenin today.
However, in Arab culture, respect is very important.
While we remove these deadly threats to our lives, the general Arab population will have little choice but feel humiliated if not ashamed.
My question is: Can’t we oppose the terrorists and, at the same time, tell the rest that we are sorry for the disruption of their lives and all the bad feelings they’re feeling?
It’s easy to defend: So well deserved.
Yet, would we not make more progress if, at the same time that we remove the terrorists, we try to win over their families, friends, and neighbors to the idea that we don’t hate or disrespect them? We only do this in self-defense.
A complication is that the line between decent citizens and terrorists is not always so sharp. Someone against terrorism may be so angry for losing his son in a terror act he committed and refuse to disavow his act, claiming to be proud of him. A young person with a terminal illness who doesn’t want to suffer more may decide to rather quickly die as a brave terrorist.
Would such attempts to clarify we just are protecting ourselves make any dents? At a time when the world is full of lies, that is most unlikely. But should we not try, at least?
It would surely make a difference on our side, to our youths, to remind us that this is not personal. It’s not us against them. It is us against threats.
That might be important at a time that even racists sit in our government.