Collapsed building in Qana
Photo: AP
Sever Plocker

Here lay their corpses

No one in Israel planned to kill the refugees in the village of Qana. Neither by premeditation nor as an afterthought. But nonetheless, we must not immerse ourselves in self-righteousness

The corpses of dozens of Lebanese children, shrouded in sealed plastic bags are laid down on the scorched and blood soaked ground of the village of Qana, it is a cursed village. The IDF's air strike brought down a building sheltering war refugees. Perhaps they didn’t believe that such a terrible fate would strike twice. Perhaps they believed that Nasrallah would protect them. And perhaps they simply didn't have anywhere to flee to.


The images of the corpses are heartbreaking. It's true that Nasrallah used the village of Qana to launch rockets towards Israel, because among other reasons he too was aware of Israel's reluctance to bomb the village (which had become a symbol of a merciless massacre 10 years ago). But this reluctance in itself, does not acquit, cleanse or sooth the conscience of any Israeli. On a national level, we are all to blame: small nations are nations with a collective responsibility. This killing should be on all our consciences.


Can we explain it? There's no need to, there is a need however to take responsibility, to console and to ask for forgiveness. Taking responsibility is key in such a tragedy. So is asking for forgiveness. It's usually difficult for us, as Israelis to ask for forgiveness – even from one another, and even more so from a neighboring people. This character trait is perceived by other nations as a form of Jewish arrogance, as a show of indifference to the plight of non-Jews, as a stand of continuous victimization. Looking at the dozens of corpses, there is no room for such a stand. Let's just be human beings, completely humane. We'll weep. Our powerful stance will not be damaged by this approach. Our enemy's will not view us as cowards. The families of the dead will regard us as human beings, and perhaps will also forgive us.


'Israel is bowing its head'


They will not forgive us if we do not ask for forgiveness. No one in Israel planned to kill the refugees in the village of Qana. Neither by premeditation nor as an afterthought. But nonetheless, we must not immerse ourselves in self-righteousness. Self righteousness poisons our consciousness and interferes with moral judgment. "They" started it, that's true. Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, a distinguished left winger, said so. But it wasn't the children of the village of Qana who started it. It wasn't their mothers lying dead beside them who started it. They were only sitting in the village's dilapidated basement listening in fear to the roar of our planes.


Taking responsibility for the tragic bombing of the village of Qana, doesn’t relinquish the justification of the war in general. This is a just war and so are the air strikes. In the type of war currently being waged in Israel and Lebanon, one can be both just and responsible for the death of innocent civilians. In this type of war one can be both right and guilty. The allies conducted a just war against Hitler, the Germans and the Japanese, during which terrible deeds were perpetrated. Civilian casualties are almost an inevitable consequence of war taking place among civilian populations. The shelling of the Hospital in Nahariya and the shopping center in Kiryat Shmona can also be regarded as "crimes against humanity". When Hassan Nasrallah launched this war 20 days ago he should have known that there are no "de-luxe" wars. Not for us and not for the Lebanese people.


Nasrallah can by no means explain the situation to the Lebanese people who are the victims of his actions. What has he gained except for so many victims? Nasrallah will be remembered as the one who brought about Lebanon's downfall. Our account with him will be closed. But not on the backs of dead children.


Israel is bowing its head at the images of the fresh graves of killed civilians in the shelling of the village of Qana. Here lay their bodies, and Israel is weeping along with their relatives. However, Israel will not cease the fighting before uprooting the cause. This will only happen when the Hizbullah is disarmed of its rockets and Lebanese and western forces are aligned along the border as specified in UN resolution 1559. This is how peace with Lebanon will be achieved. It's about time, after 58 years. 


פרסום ראשון: 07.31.06, 21:53
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