Solidarity – an Israeli heart beats a Palestinian heart

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Two examples that are the expression of our humanity in one of the darkest moments in our current history

In the midst of a deeply disproportionate war between Israel and Hamas, with acts of terrorism in Israel by a Hamas group on October 7 and consequently retaliation by the Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, so violent that it was denounce it as genocide. There are 3345 dead children and 2060 women, as of October 31st, more than 8 thousand civilians dead and thousands injured. After carpet bombings that destroyed the main centers and hundreds of Palestinian homes, a dangerous Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip began. As is notorious in such cases, there are an incalculable number of victims on both sides. There are those who lose their faith in a just and good God (“Lord, where are you? Why do you allow so much destruction?”) and in humanity itself, now unequivocally denied.

Yet we continue to believe that there can be surprising humanity between Palestinians and Jews. Let's look at two testimonies, one from a Palestinian and the other from an Israeli. The first was reported by Spanish journalist Ferran Sale in El Pais on June 7, 2001 and the second witnessed by myself.

Here is the first, from the Palestinian: Mazen Julani was a 32-year-old Palestinian pharmacist, father of three, who lived in the Arab part of Jerusalem. One day when he was having coffee with friends in a bar, he was the victim of a fatal gunshot from a Jewish settler. It was revenge against the Palestinian Hamas group that, forty-five minutes earlier, on June 5, 2000, had killed countless people in a Tel Aviv nightclub in an attack carried out by a suicide bomber. The projectile entered Mazen's neck and blew out his brain. Taken immediately to the Israeli hospital Hadassa arrived already dead.

The Julani clan decided right there in the hospital corridors to hand over all of their dead son's organs, the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas for transplants to Jewish patients. The head of the clan clarified on behalf of everyone that this gesture did not have any political connotation. It was a strictly humanitarian gesture.

According to the Muslim religion, he said, we all form a single human family and we are all equal, Israelis and Palestinians. It doesn't matter who the organs are transplanted into. As long as they help save lives. But we found the agencies well employed with our Israeli neighbors. In fact, a Palestinian heart now beats in Israel's Yigal Cohen.

Mazen Julani's wife had difficulty explaining her father's death to her four-year-old daughter. She just told him that her father was traveling far away and that he would bring her a nice gift when he returned. To those who were nearby, she whispered with her eyes filled with tears: in a while, my children and I will visit Yigal Cohen in the Israeli part of Jerusalem.

He lives with the heart of my husband and the father of my children. It will be a great comfort for us to hear the heart of the one who loved us so much and who, in a way, is still beating for us.

This generous gesture is loaded with symbolic significance. In the midst of a highly tense and hateful environment, as it is today, a flower of hope and peace emerges. The conviction that we are all members of the same human family fosters attitudes of forgiveness, reconciliation and unconditional solidarity. Deep down, love breaks out here that overcomes the limits of religion, race and political ideology. These are virtues that make us believe in a possible culture of peace.

In the imagination of one of the most insightful interpreters of Brazilian culture, Gilberto Freyre, our civilizing essay, despite the many contradictions, consisted of creating a people capable of living with the positive aspects of each culture and with an enormous potential to deal with conflicts (Casa Grande and Senzala).

Here is the second, by an Israeli, assisted by me personally in Stockholm, Sweden. At the time of granting the title The Rigth Livelihood Award, considered the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of December 2001 when, among others, I myself was awarded. But one of the winners impressed everyone. It was the testimony of a senior Israeli official, in charge of repression against Palestinians. In a confrontation he was injured. A Palestinian rescued him, promptly in his jeep, taking him to the Palestinian hospital. He accompanied him until he was healthy.

Back in Israel, this officer created an NGO for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. This initiative was considered high treason, taken to the military court, as it was a question of establishing a dialogue with the enemy. But he ended up being acquitted and continued with his dialogue and was finally awarded the award for his persistence in the search for peace between Jews and Palestinians.

Here, once again, the human capacity to help an injured person who was restraining him is shown, like a good Samaritan, in Jesus' parable. He recognized in him a human being who needed immediate assistance.

We have said repeatedly in our interventions that love and solidarity belong to the essence of humanity and are even inscribed in our DNA. Because this is so, we are not allowed to despair in the face of the cruelty and barbarity that we are witnessing in today's wars. They are also possibilities of the negative of our condition humane. But we cannot let them prevail, otherwise we will devour each other.

These two examples are an expression of our humanity in one of the darkest moments in our current history. They update our hope, that is, the invention of real conditions that guarantee love and solidarity, present in each one of us. They are the ones who will save us.

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


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