Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snapshot



Northern Israel, near the Lebanese border. October 1995. A pit stop. We were warned not to take photographs of the soldiers in the area, there had been incursions across the border and people were jumpy, but this one - so young - seemed open and friendly so I took the risk. I gestured with the camera. Would he mind? He smiled and I pressed the button.

It was what passed for a time of hope, the narrow window of one year between the signing of the Oslo accord between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and the death of that hope by assassination a few weeks later in the November. Even then, in the best of times relatively speaking, there seemed to be little optimism. Just a sense, at least among the Israelis that we met, that it couldn't work out, that the enmity on the other side was too deep. That it would always be like this. We had sat next to a Palestinian doctor on the plane from London to Tel Aviv and he spoke with quiet bitterness about a life in exile. He was equally pessimistic.

****

This isn't a political post about Israel and Gaza, though heaven knows I have my own opinion.

I had a CofE education. These days forgotten snatches of Old Testament verses float back into the memory.

The Lord hardened Pharoah's heart.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.


A hard heart.

Not a refuge, not a defence. Not at all. A place of danger.

8 comments:

Dale said...

Sigh. I find it impossible even to have an opinion about what should be done, because to have an opinion I would have to have a glimmer of hope.

I remind myself sometimes that i was similarly pessimistic about Northern Ireland (knock on wood.)

Dick said...

Hearts have been hardened, but I suspect that the antagonists' Lord has little to do with it. 'Humanity must perforce prey on itself.'

Relatively Retiring said...

Forty years ago I was working in the Middle East, and I can see no change in the situation today. I knew so many people who had lost everything, especially hope.
The youth of your soldier is touching, and there are many even younger, on both sides.

mm said...

Dale: I know. Northern Ireland has been on my mind too. A solution of pragmatism and needs must rather than a change of heart. Doesn't matter. Whatever works is the way to go.

Dick: So it would seem. Sadly.

RR: The worst thing is the number of children that are involved ....

Sky said...

such innocence in the photograph. such sadness in the losses.

it always astounds me how many people die in the name of religion.

Cat B said...

Such a beautiful young man. It all feels so senseless. I just wonder how hearts can be softened...

herhimnbryn said...

I looked at the image and read your words and wondered, if he is still alive...................

mm said...

Sky: Yes indeed.
Cat B: My sense is that it starts with softening our own hearts, with compassion for ourselves then reaching out to others ....
HHB: I've been wondering that too.