Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reflections as the bodies of Israeli soldiers return to Sybil Adelman Sage

They returned to Israel today, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two young soldiers, who'd been taken captive by Hezbollah guerrillas during the 2006 war in black coffins, an unbearably painful confirmation of the deepest fears of families, friends and those of us who'd been praying and holding out hope for their safe return.

Their bodies were turned over in exchange for Israel giving back the remains of 199 fighters and five Lebanese prisoners, including Samir Kantar, imprisoned since 1979 after being found guilty of killing a policeman and then Danny Haran in front of his 4-year-old daughter, Einat, whom he later killed by crushing her skull.

The distress in Israel was a stark contrast to the rejoicing in Lebanon, where the men were greeted as heroes with a red carpet, brass band and signs reading, "Israel is shedding tears of pain" and "Lebanon is shedding tears of joy."

It's easy to react with rage. The desire to seek revenge is understandable. But nobody wins when the cycle of violence continues.

Today is a day to reflect on alternatives, organizations such as The Parents Circle (Israeli and Palestinian families who've united as a result of losing loved ones in the conflict) and Rabbis for Human Rights, who turn their pain and passion into promoting healing and unity. However unlikely, it's these alliances that may be our only chance for breaking the pattern.