The Blanket

The Ethics of Revenge

Sam Bahour and Yitzhak Frankenthal

Dear friends,

I pass this article to you after spending earlier in the day two plus hours at the Kalandia checkpoint (between Jerusalem and Ramallah). I spent last night in Jerusalem with an Aunt that had a heart attack and was rushed to a Palestinian hospital there 2 nights ago. As I waited to re-enter Ramallah today before our daily curfew was re-imposed I stood in line with about 100 others waiting to enter
pass the Israeli soldiers. Today was extremely hot, over 100 degrees, and I just stared at the babies in strollers and elderly people that just barley were able to even stand in line. It is hard to believe that this line has become a daly routine for many. Those waiting looked numb to the abuse that this routine really is.

Then the Israelis soldiers, 3 of the worse I've seen in a long time, decided that the line must move back before they continue checking each person, one by one. The 3 just pulled up chairs, sat, and started laughing and joking at us, why we would not move back. It was so packed we could'nt, but that meant nothing to them. One soldier came to the front of the 2 person line (which was by now 6 persons wide) and started yelling in a hand-held public address speaker. He put the speaker in the ears of people and yelled in Hebrew, BACK!. He did this in the most provocative way possible. When he came to a 25-30 year old man next to me and did the same, the man pushed the speaker away. This triggered a shouting match and then another soldier joined and the young man was hauled away while being hit with a billy club on the head. I have no idea where he ended up.

An hour after that another bearded Palestinian man worked his way to the front of the line to yelled out to the soldiers that it was hot and he demanded that the women and children be allowed to pass. The soldier made a smart remark in Hebrew and the two got into a shouting match in Hebrew. This Palestinian had a Jerusalem ID and was defiant. He was screaming to the soldier that if he took
pleasure in seeing small kids and babies sweat in the line that he should not be serving his country...they went on and on for more than 15 minutes while standing 20 meters apart. Then the soldier flipped out, rushed to the man (who had about 100 people behind him) and cocked his rifle while threatening to shoot him. A second Ethiopian Soldier soldier did the same. At this tense moment we were able to convince the Palestinian man to back down for the sake of the others who had to pass into Ramallah before the curfew. In the line were 2 German women and when this guy backed into the line he started discussing with them in fluent German. Interestingly, the man looked at the crowd and said "they think those of us who challenge them are crazy, I speak 5 languages and us 100, no, the
children alone amongst us 100, have more humanity than the entire IDF. They must be challenged"

It took another 30 minutes before things settled down and the line started moving again, one by one. We let all the women pass first and them the men lined up to pass. As soon as I was allowed to pass I heard a lot of yelling again. I looked back before making the 300m walk to the other side of the checkpoint and the soldiers had just gotten word that a bombing happened in Jerusalem. They moved barbed wire in front of the line and told everyone that no one else would enter Ramallah today. There was a tremendous amount of yelling as I rushed to get to the other side.

Reading the below article tonight, puts the above day to day humiliation in perspective. Tomorrow I will try to speak in person to this Israeli and thank him for his understanding of our reality. I can only wish others would see the occupation in person so they can gain insight into why so many Palestinians are today equalling life to death.


The Ethics of Revenge,
by a father who lost his son to terror

A speech made by Yitzhak Frankenthal, Chairman of the Families Forum, at a rally in Jerusalem on Saturday, July 27, 2002, outside the Prime Minister’s residence.

My beloved son Arik, my own flesh and blood, was murdered by Palestinians. My tall blue-eyed golden-haired son who was always smiling with the innocence of a child and the understanding of an adult. My son. If to hit his killers, innocent Palestinian children and other civilians would have to be killed, I would ask the security forces to wait for another opportunity. If the security forces were to kill
innocent Palestinians as well, I would tell them they were no better than my son’s killers.

My beloved son Arik was murdered by a Palestinian. Should the security forces have information of this murderer’s whereabouts, and should it turn out that he was surrounded by innocent children and other Palestinian civilians, then - even if the security forces knew that the killer was planning another murderous attack that was to be launched within hours and they now had the choice of curbing a
terror attack that would kill innocent Israeli civilians but at the cost of hitting innocent Palestinians, I would tell the security forces not to seek revenge but to try to avoid and prevent the death of innocent civilians, be they Israelis or Palestinians.

I would rather have the finger that pushes the trigger or the button that drops the bomb tremble before it kills my son’s murderer, than for innocent civilians to be killed. I would say to the security forces: do not kill the killer. Rather, bring him before an Israeli court. You are not the judiciary. Your only motivation should not be vengeance, but the prevention of any injury to innocent civilians.

Ethics are not black and white - they are all white. Ethics have to be free of vengefulness and rashness. Every act must be carefully weighed before a decision is made to see whether it meets the strict ethical criteria. Ethics cannot be left to the discretion of anyone who is frivolous or trigger-happy. Our ethics are hanging by a thread, at the mercy of every soldier and politician. I am not at all sure that I am willing to delegate my ethics to them.

It is unethical to kill innocent Israeli or Palestinian women and children. It is also unethical to control another nation and to lead it to lose its humaneness. It is patently unethical to drop a bomb that kills innocent Palestinians. It is blatantly unethical to wreak vengeance upon innocent bystanders. It is, on the other hand, supremely ethical to prevent the death of any human being. But if such prevention causes the futile death of others, the ethical foundation for such prevention is lost.

A nation that cannot draw the line is doomed to eventually apply unethical measures against its own people. The worst in my mind is not what has already happened but what I am sure one day will. And it will - because ethics are now being twisted and the political and military leadership does not even have the most basic integrity to say: “we are sorry”.

We lost sight of our ethics long before the suicide bombings. The breaking point was when we started to control another nation. My son Arik was born into a democracy with a chance for a decent, settled life. Arik’s killer was born into an appalling occupation, into an ethical chaos. Had my son been born in his stead, he may have ended up doing the same. Had I myself been born into the political and ethical chaos that is the Palestinians’ daily reality, I would certainly have tried to kill and hurt the occupier; had I not, I would have betrayed my essence as a free man. Let all the self-righteous who speak of ruthless Palestinian murderers take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves what they would have done had they
been the ones living under occupation. I can say for myself that I, Yitzhak Frankenthal, would have undoubtedly become a freedom fighter and would have killed as many on the other side as I possibly could. It is this depraved hypocrisy that pushes the Palestinians to fight us relentlessly. Our double standard that allows us to boast the highest military ethics, while the same military slays innocent children. This lack of ethics is bound to corrupt us.

My son Arik was murdered when he was a soldier by Palestinian fighters who believed in the ethical basis of their struggle against the occupation. My son Arik was not murdered because he was Jewish but because he is part of the nation that occupies the territory of another.

I know these are concepts that are unpalatable, but I must voice them loud and clear, because they come from my heart - the heart of a father whose son did not get to live because his people were blinded with power. As much as I would like to do so, I cannot say that the Palestinians are to blame for my son’s death. That would be the easy way out, but it is we, Israelis, who are to blame because of the occupation. Anyone who refuses to heed this awful truth will eventually lead to our destruction.

The Palestinians cannot drive us away - they have long acknowledged our existence. They have been ready to make peace with us; it is we who are unwilling to make peace with them. It is we who insist on maintaining our control over them; it is we who escalate the situation in the region and feed the cycle of bloodshed. I regret to say it, but the blame is entirely ours.

I do not mean to absolve the Palestinians and by no means justify attacks against Israeli civilians. No attack against civilians can be condoned. But as an occupation force it is we who trample over human dignity, it is we who crush the liberty of Palestinians and it is we who push an entire nation to crazy acts of despair. Finally, I call on my brothers and sisters in the settlements - see what we have
come to.




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We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

2 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


A Scam In A Pint Glass

Anthony McIntyre


Meeting the Paramilitaries

Davy Carlin


The GFA's Failure to Deliver An Honest and Genuine Constitutional Settlement Keeps Northern Ireland Divided
Paul A. Fitzsimmons


Hold Firm
Niall Fennessy


Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór


Stake Knife Logo
Brian Mór


The Ethics of Revenge

Sam Bahour and Yitzhak Frankenthal


A Tale Told By An Idiot
John Chuckman


28 July 2002


Strategy of Threat

Anthony McIntyre


E.U. Surveillance of Telecommunications

Aine Fox


Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Davy Carlin


Snap Shot
Sherry Maguire




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