Sunday, September 26, 2010

On The Uses Of Ambivalence

Rabbi Jonathan Kleiglerís use of the term ìambivalenceî as the need to be able to see more than one side of the question in resolving conflicts is exactly correct in the most general of all senses. It feels right, itís easy to understand, and it appears to stand on the moral high ground. However, when applied to the Palestine-Israeli conflict, it fails to measure up to the basic requirements of fairness and justice; it does not address the facts on the ground.

What we find are two wholly unequal actors. One who holds all the power and uses it to completely control the other in totally unacceptable ways (siege of Gaza, apartheid-like restrictions, etc), and the other who lives in poverty, has no power, and occasionally strikes out in completely unacceptable ways (suicide bombings, rockets, etc). This is not particularly different than a domestic violence situation, one of batterer and victim. We donít ask the victim to compromise with the batterer in order to find a just peace. We insist on the cessation of the battering and put the batterer in jail. We are not interested in whether the batterer thinks that he has justification for his brutality, nor do we ask the victim to relinquish any of her rights.

Yes, we understand that the batterer often was battered himself and is usually in the need of help, but that is offered only after the cessation of the battering. We donít, nor should we, allow the battererís history to have any impact on the fair resolution of the conflict. Justice is justice, and there is no peace without it, certainly not through the use of ambivalence.

Nicholas Abramson

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