by George Beres
(Swans - August 14, 2006) There is a knack to intelligent reading, just as there is for meaningful writing. The message, as the careful reader realizes, is not always what you see on paper. Sometimes it is hidden between the lines.
An illustration came in a recent article (in the Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon), "Mideast Violence" by Rabbi Maurice Harris. He seemed caring in what he wrote, expressing himself with intelligence. Mixed in, I found guile, whether intentional or not.
I found his hidden message in behalf of Israel easy to detect. It was not camouflaged, and appeared starkly at the beginning and at the end, when he wrote: "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning."
What stood out as if in neon lettering was the word, cunning. I assume Rabbi Harris intended to use it in its benign scriptural context. But he was writing today -- when the word has evolved into sinister meaning as Webster's Dictionary defines it: "Contrived; crafty; with guile."
It reminds: when a writer appeals to your heart, use your mind to judge what is written.
Whatever the writer's intent, the hidden meaning of cunning flashed before this reader. It described the manipulative behavior patterns of many persons in the maneuvering of world politics. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the effort of our government to cloak its agenda in public relations terms. "Compassionate" and "caring" become verbal caricatures when the Bush administration uses them to mask opposite behavior. Assertions of the president about self-professed Christian identity make a mockery of religious principles.
Rabbi Harris is not guilty of that pose. He seems sincere, describing his involvement in "Israeli-Palestinian peace work for more than a decade." That is what makes his words even more disturbing. They come at a time when the Israeli government is no more representative of its citizens than the Bush government is of ours.
He should acknowledge guilt of Israeli policies in Lebanon and Palestine.
That kind of behavior is mirrored in unthinking bitterness of Arab states toward Israel. But Israel has greater responsibility because it is as guilty as the U.S. of preemptive militarism.
Middle East realities are denied by those who try to defend Israel in the face of its continued aggression. Examples are Letters to the Editor from apologists in support of Harris's views. One wrote: "There is no reason to be sympathetic to a civilian population (Palestine) that chose a terrorist government (Hamas)." Another: "The Arab world has ceded its destiny to factions who do not believe in freedom."
Do they jest? Hamas representatives in Palestinian parliament were democratically elected -- by contrast to the current head of state in this country. As for freedom, Palestinians have been denied freedom and basic essentials for existence by Israeli oppressors whose actions suggest they do not believe in freedom for others.
Such writers and all concerned about Israel's future need to be aware of an ominous, unsought achievement of Israeli militarism: for the first time in memory, Arab people have been united as Hamas (Sunni) and Hezbollah (Shiite) have become cooperating allies. This sudden unity that energizes Arab people against Israel and the U.S. is something our government and news media refuse to recognize, even as it becomes the dominant reality in the Middle East.
It may be, as with Rabbi Harris's commentary, that our leaders and we need to read between the lines before it is too late -- not just for Israel, but for world peace.
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