As the Associated Press reports:
Palestinian police rescued an Israeli soldier Monday after he mistakenly drove into this West Bank town and was surrounded by a mob that later burned his car. Israel praised the rescue as a sign of the growing strength of Palestinian moderates.It's more than that. It has nothing to do with moderation or extremism, it has to do with humanity.
One of the reasons people hate I/P blogging is that they're often mere shitfests about who did what horrible thing to whom. I have no use for such diaries. I've said it many times: the two sides are at war, and when there is a war, people do horrible things to each other. Blaming one side or the other, or wanting to punish one side or the other, accomplishes nothing. Broadcasting every atrocity only fans the flames of hatred. As long as there is a war, there will be atrocities. That's a given.
The only issue that matters is how we can help foster peace. The only way to foster peace is to stop exacerbating the hatred, to stop fueling the justifiable paranoia that permeates both populations, and to try to understand that both sides have been severely traumatized- by each other, by their own failed leaders, by the U.S. and Europe, by other Arab and Muslim nations, and by the wider world. The Israeli and Palestinian people have been but pawns in much larger geopolitical machinations, and what they need is compassion, understanding, and a chance to move forward. That's why I love this little story.
The rescue was a sharp contrast to seven years ago when two Israeli army reservists strayed into the West Bank city of Ramallah. They were captured by Palestinian police, who took them to a police station. A mob stormed the station and killed the two, throwing one body from a second story window as news photographers took pictures.Exactly right. When people outside the world of politics behave with such inhumanity, it speaks to the degree to which they have been dehumanized. Today's story says something else. These Palestinian cops could have easily turned away. They could have seen the Israeli soldier as a uniformed enemy who deserved whatever horrible fate befell him. They didn't. They saw him as a human being.
That incident, known to shocked Israelis as "the lynching," set the tone for violence and suspicion that has continued ever since.
It is the common humanity of the Israelis and the Palestinians that has been bludgeoned. It is only the common humanity of the Israelis and the Palestinians that can save them. It's not about politics, it's about people. Today, one Israeli soldier is safe with the people he loves. Today, a group of Palestinian police officers are heroes. With all the horror pervading that region and the world, it's worth recognizing and celebrating such heroes.