Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Virtue of a Short Memory

There are elements on both sides of the Israeli - Palestinian divide that are skeptical as to the meaning of recent events. This skepticism is hard-won and difficult to surmount. If there is ever to be (relative) peace in that troubled land, this skepticism must be overcome. There are times when it is helpful to remember, other times when it is best to forget. Sometimes, the same event must be remembered and forgotten, in different ways.

For example, the Holocaust must always be studied and taught, as the survivers are dying, and we musn't forget that evil, the better to prevent its recurrence. Yet for the Israelis to have relations with modern Germany, it was necessary to forget (or, at least on some level, forgive) the great wrong done to their people.

Such is the case in the Middle East. The present situation is as hopeful as it has been since the Oslo accords. Perhaps there is only a fool's hope, but it beats no hope at all. I greatly fear that the process will be derailed by the accumulation of ill will by both sides. This is a time when to forget is a blessing. Leaders must have a hard heart at times, to deal with matters such as terrorism and war; at other times, a soft heart is necessary, for reconciliation and reconstruction. My urgent hope is that Sharon and Abbas realize that the aspirations of generations fall upon their shoulders, and now is not the time to be hard of heart. A healthy dose of skepticism must always be present when dealing with one's enemies; however, if all one feels is skepticism, then that enemy is sure to remain so.

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