Battling the Battles

I’m very proud of the fact that I have never hit my kids. Of course there are times that I’ve wanted to hit them, but that comes when I am so frustrated that I don’t know what else to do. It comes when I am weak and helpless, even if I am stronger than them. I know that hitting my children will not help them learn the lessons I want them to learn. It will not teach them right from wrong. It will not teach them why they should act as I would like them to. It will not give them a sense of love and safety in which they can grow and develop into who they are. It certainly will not teach them to stop hiting each other. It will instead teach them violence, fear and aggression. Children learn what they live.

When my children are fighting, I separate them. I let them cool down and I try to address the reasons behind their battles. Most of the times they don’t know why they are fighting other than to blame it on something the other one did. But that is not the reason children fight. Sometimes they fight because they are hungry. Sometimes they fight because they are tired. Sometimes they are bored or jealous or insecure. It is my job as a parent to figure out why my children fight and then to address those needs. I hear their frustration when they feel they are not heard and I give them attentive listening. I feed them when they are hungry, I put them to bed when they are tired and I reassure them when they are doubting themselves.

This is not to say that I do not fight or lose control sometimes. In all intimate relationships conflicts arise – be it between syblings, between parents and childen or between husband and wife. While my wife and I try to present a united front with our children, sometimes one of us loses control so the other partner must take over as in a tag-team wrestling match. If we have a conflict between our selves, hopefully one of us is level-headed enough to disengge and separate until the other has cooled down. When that is not the case, however, the tension, anger and frustration erupts. Neither of us is happy when this happens, nothing constructive comes of it and it does not solve any issues. However, if both of us are not in a place where we can see the best way to behave in order to really achieve what we want, we lash out.

In our guest room are two cousins who came to Jerusalem from a kibbutz north of Tiberias after they heard rockets exploding not far from them. This Shabbat, in our synagogue, a mother of a sailor in Israel’s navy read the prayer for our soldiers close to tears while her son was at sea off the coast of Lebanon. The dead and injured in Israel include not only our sons, fathers and husbands serving in the IDF, but hundreds of innocent civilians who were in their homes and places of work when rockets shattered their lives. Is this because the Israeli government has seized the opportunity to teach Hizballah a lesson. This is not how to educate. This is how to alienate, incite and escalate.

There are tactical objectives to push Hizballah out of range, but at what cost? On the premise of retaliating for an incursion into Israeli territory, the killing and the abduction of soldiers, we launched a full scale attack. Our offensive has been the catalyst to more attacks on Israeli civilian population centers just as the Israeli government anticipated. Therefore, our objective is not to bring our boys home alive. Nor is it to save Israeli lives.

Were our objective the safe return of our soldiers, we could have paused the rain of devestation being unleashed in Southern Lebanon for 24 hours to listen. We could have made an offer. We could have not acted immediately and spun world opinion so that they would have been encouraging us to strike. However, we have exploited the opportunity to cross national borders and to demolish the Hizballah infrastructure. The safe return of our soldiers is not the objective of this mission, it is the excuse for this mission.

What is more, instead of encouraging and empowering the Lebanese government to act against the Hizballah, as the Lebanese people through popular street protests forced Syria to withdraw from its territory, we have forced Lebanon into a corner where it has no choice but to condemn Israel and not Hizballah.

The opportunities to rally world opinion, to engage the Lebanese government, to bring about the return of our soldiers and to prevent large-scale attacks in which civilians on both sides of the borders have been killed, injured and suffered massive losses have all been lost because our leaders felt they had to strike back hard and fast without considering the long-term effects or benefits of restraint.

It will take time for Hizballah to rebuild and the first ring around Israel may be neutralized. Perhaps the Lebanese government will be empowered as Hizballah is weakened. Clearly we are sending a message to Syria and Iran as well. However, this not the way to achieve our goals. We have not fostered peace nor have we prevented the loss of life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *