Michael Jackson

Remember your humanity and forget the rest 

Bertrand Russell in a 1954 radio broadcast on global atomic warfare stated “Remember your humanity and forget the rest”, the title of this article. The “rest” being national interests, prejudice, racism, greed, etc.   The phrase “your humanity” refers to the person the phrase addresses, but it comprehends that all humanity is linked to this addressee.  The remembrance of your humanity implies a link to all mankind. This is utterly different than if Russell had written “Remember your fortune” i.e., a purely personal inanimate object.

Applying this to the Israel-Gaza war, the leadership of Hamas would not even understand Russell’s plea.  Hamas and ISIS believe in Muslim domination, not humanity. In addition to killing Jews, they would happily kill Christians, Hindus, atheists, and Shi’ite Muslims. Their definition of humanity is exclusively Sunni Muslim. Further, some of the worldwide supporters of Hamas exclude Jews from their definition of humanity when they deny that Hamas perpetrated sexual abuse, mass murder, the killing of children, and torture.

Most Palestinians are Muslims and believe in Palestinian statehood. These two issues, among others, are the “rest” as in Russell’s “forget the rest”.  I think that only a few Palestinians will “remember their humanity and forget the rest”.

After discussing the Palestinian position on this phrase, let us turn to Israel.  Israel, collectively, as a country, does care about humanity. Israel donates aid and expertise to poorer developing countries and helps in cases of natural disasters.  Israel intends to destroy Hamas, the architects of the October 7th atrocity, but not the Palestinian people (at least the vast majority of Jewish Israelis do not). But for Orthodox Jews, just as for devout Muslims, their religion is more important than humanity. Also, secular Israelis feel a strong bond to the country and Zionism.   Thus Israel has strong attachments to Russell’s “the rest”.

Comparing Israel and the Palestinians, even if more Israelis remember their humanity than do Palestinians, it is still a small percentage. There is far more talk in Israel about the release of a hundred-plus hostages than the deaths of 10,000 Gazan kids. I think it is safe to say that a larger percentage of Israelis can “remember their humanity” than among Palestinians.  There are several reasons, but the most salient is quite simple. The Israelis are the oppressors, and the Palestinians are the oppressed. Any Israeli who does not think that Gazan Palestinians, West Bank Palestinians, and even Israeli Arab citizens are not oppressed is living in la-la land.  Americans who believe that there is no systemic racism in America inhabit a similar la-la land.

About 30,000 Palestinians (civilians and fighters) have been killed in Gaza. Even assuming the high estimate of the Israeli Army that 10,000 Hamas fighters have been killed it means 20,000 civilians have been killed.  This is twice the number of Ukrainian civilians killed in a war that has lasted over four times as long as the Gazan war or a Gazan rate at least eight times as great as the Ukrainian civilian death rate.  Considering just children killed,  it is at least 8,000 Gazan kids compared to 600 Ukrainian kids.

“Remembering your humanity” means Palestinians must recognize that Hamas committed an unforgivable atrocity on October 7th.  They must recognize that Hamas is a terrorist organization that works against their interests.  They must recognize that terror has got them nowhere in the past half-century and is doomed to failure.  Israelis must recognize that their military tactics in Gaza are killing too many civilians.  They must change these tactics.  Israelis need to recognize that their treatment of Gaza has been wrong.  They must close some settlements in the West Bank.  They must recognize Palestinian rights to a state, even a truncated, demilitarized, and small one.

I understand that my previous paragraph lists many conditions that are unlikely to be fulfilled.  It is why I am pessimistic as to the future of the Israel-Palestine problem.

So “remember your humanity, forget the rest” becomes for Israel-Palestine, “remember your humanity”……just forget it.

About the Author
Born in London in 1949. Studied Maths at Warwick University. Came to Israel (WUJS program at Arad) in 1971. I became a citizen and served in the army in 1973. Returned to the UK in 1974. Worked in Information Systems. Married an American Orthodox woman in 1977 and moved to America. For a few years I have led a retiree philosophy class.
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