The Hamas-Israel war

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

How is it possible for us to reach such levels of destruction between the small and violent group Hamas and the also small but powerful State of Israel?

In these days of October we watched, in amazement, the war that broke out between the terrorist group Hamas, from Palestine, and the State of Israel, attacked by surprise and the strong retaliation of the latter. Given the violence used, victimizing hundreds of people on both sides, especially the innocent population, it would seem that the horse of the Apocalypse, that of destructive war, has broken out (Rev. 9, 13-19).

The rockets, the missiles, the drones, the tanks, the bombers, the fighters, the smart bombs and the soldiers themselves, made into small killing machines, look like figures straight out of the pages of the book of Revelation.

All of us who come from a pacifist vision of the world, from the ecology of the harmonious integration of oppositions, from the evolutionary process, conceived as open to increasingly complex, high and ordered forms of relationships and even Pope Francis' warnings about ecological alarm, We ask ourselves in anguish: how is it possible for us to reach such levels of destruction?

How to understand the phenomena that accompany the scenario of this war, such as the invasion of Israel by Hamas terrorists, indiscriminately killing civilians, kidnapping people, children, elderly people and military personnel, the fake news, the planned distortion of facts and the manipulation of religious beliefs? It is important not to forget the many years of harsh Israeli domination over the Gaza region and the Palestinians in general. This provoked resentment and a lot of hatred, which is the basis of the ongoing conflicts in the region. But all of this does not silence the question: what are we, human beings, capable of so much barbarity?

And wars increasingly turned into total wars, claiming more victims among civilian populations than among combatants. Max Born, Nobel laureate in physics (1954) denounced the prevalence of the killing of civilians in modern warfare. In the First World War, only 5% of civilians died, in the Second World War, 50%, in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, 85%. And recent data shows that against Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, in Ukraine 98% of victims are civilians. In the current war, between the Hamas group and Israel, the data should be of a similar proportion, as can be deduced from the threatening words of the Israeli premier, Benyamin Netanyahu.

According to historian Alfred Weber, brother of Max Weber, of the 3.400 years of human history that we can date with documents, 3.166 were of war. The remaining 234 were certainly not peace but truce and preparation for another war.

Faced with this frightening drama, a radical question arises: what is the meaning of being, life and history? How to illuminate this anti-phenomenon?

We have no other category to illuminate this enigma other than to recognize: it is the explosion and implosion of dementia, inscribed in the human being, as we know it. We are also beings of dementia, of excess, of the desire to dominate, choke and murder. This was amply illustrated in the wars of the 200th century that resulted in the slaughter of XNUMX million people and in the spectacular acts perpetrated by terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism such as the destruction of the Twin Towers in the USA and currently by the surprising and terrible attack by the terrorist group Hamas (rejected part by the Palestinians) to the State of Israel.

The enigmatic thing is that this dementia always comes together with sapience. Sapience is our ability to love, care, be ecstatic and open to the Infinite. We are, simultaneously, all without exception, sapiens and demens, that is, sapient and demented human beings.

The dominant paradigm of our culture, based on the will to power and domination, created the conditions for our collective dementia to manifest itself powerfully and predominate. This spirit of war is present in the financialized market economy, in the war over wheat, corn, cars, computers, cell phones, religious groups and even research centers.

On the other hand, our sapient dimension never stopped appearing at any time. Squares around the world are filled with crowds calling for peace and never again war, whenever the threat of conflict is raised, as a way of resolving problems. Political, intellectual and religious leaders, raise their voices and nurture the bright and peaceful side of human beings and do not let us despair. Jesus, Saint Francis of Assisi, M. Gandhi, Luther King Jr, Dom Helder Câmara, among others, became references for anti-violence and champions of peace.

What solution will we find for this problem with metaphysical dimensions? To this day we don't know exactly.

The most realistic and wisest solution seems to be the one expressed in the “peace prayer” of Saint Francis of Assisi, the universal brother of nature, animals, mountains and stars. In this prayer, widely disseminated and made a common creed by macroecumenism, that is, by ecumenism between religions and churches, we find an illuminating key.

The terms of the prayer make clear the awareness of the contradictory nature of the human condition, made up of love and hate, wisdom and insanity. We start from this contradiction, but confidently affirm the positive pole with the certainty that it will limit and integrate the negative pole.

The lesson underlying Saint Francis' prayer is this: dementia cannot be cured except by reinforcing wisdom. Therefore, in his words: “wherever there is hatred, may I bring love; where there is discord, may I bring unity; Where there is despair, I may bring hope; Where there is darkness, let me bring light". And it is more important to “love than to be loved, to understand more than to be understood, to forgive more than to be forgiven, because it is in giving that we receive and it is in dying that we live for eternal life.”

In this wisdom of the simple lies, perhaps, the secret of overcoming the desires of those who want violence and war as a way of resolving conflicts or asserting the interests of one against another, as is occurring in the current Hamas-Israel war.

The path to peace, Gandhi taught, is peace itself. Only peaceful means produce peace. Peace is, at the same time, a goal and a method, an end and a means. I hope this spirit ends up triumphing over brutal violence in the present, deeply asymmetrical war between the small and violent group Hamas and the also small but powerful State of Israel.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Fundamentalism, terrorism, religion and peace (Vozes).


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