Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Educated for War?

The most striking sentence in Patricia Storace’s review of David Grossman’s novel To the End of the Land for the October 13 issue of The New York Review of Books and now available for all to read online comes at the very end of her analysis:

Yet from toy soldiers and paratrooper dolls, model tanks, displays of the emblems of Israeli army corps, pop songs from the armed forces radio station, school visits from soldiers, and picture books about army adventures, to teenagers taking state-sponsored trips to concentration camp sites in Poland, Israeli childhood educates for war.

To be fair, it would not surprise me to find a similar (or analogous) assertion made about the Palestinians;  but that is not the critical point.  That point can be found in one of the analyses of the Old Testament.  That analysis suggests that the reason that Moses led the Jews freed from Egyptian bondage around in the desert for forty years was to allow a new generation to mature.  Put another way, a population that has always been in slavery is not ready for freedom.  The Children of Israel could not enter the Promised Land until they had leaders who had not known slavery.

Whether or not this is a valid Biblical interpretation, it suggests the hypothesis that a population that has only known war may not be capable of living in peace.  The history of Israel has been a narrative of one conflict after another, and things are not that different in the chronicles of the displaced Palestinians.  Peace may not be able to come with any stability until both sides have grown up knowing what it means to live in peace.  Needless to say, this does not make the prospects for peace in the near future particularly promising.

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