To the Editors: On Ending the Cycle of Violence
by Joel Finkel

Sent to the Chicago Tribune on May 19, 2001.

To the Editor,

So yet another Palestinian wrapped explosives around his body and detonated them, killing not only himself, but also dozens of others, in an Israeli shopping center.  Surely he must have been insane.  He must have be a broken, evil person to do such harm.  For why would anyone be so motivated?

So the Israelis retaliated once again with jet bombers, and the US called for an "end to the cycle of violence."

The answer is so clear that we Jews are afraid to see it.  We seem to have no capacity at all to accept our own guilt.

There are only two solutions to break the "cycle."  Demand that Israel withdraw from the land that they have illegally occupied since 1967, and on which they have illegally built settlements.  Or demand that the Palestinians, who have lived on this land in peace for thousands of years, accept that they have lost their land forever, they have lost their olive groves, their water, their villages, and their people.

When we Jews were being oppressed in Europe, we had almost no culture of massive resistance, and no suicide bombers, save for the courageous fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which we all but forget.  Let us remember them now.

While I have no interest in glorifying suicide, or in the taking of innocent life, especially the life of children, I have every interest in understanding the rage that comes from oppression, from military occupation, and in the spirit of resistance.

If you find such resistance abhorrent, then work to remove its need, work to break the cycle.  Demand that Israel end its brutal Occupation of Palestinian territory.  The suicide bombers will find better things to do.