The Kiss That I Want, Benedetta Polignone, 2014, via
In late July a professor of law at Bar Ilan University, Hanoch Sheinman, sent an email message to his students telling them that the examination period would be extended because of the war. He also expressed the hope that his message
finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or were forced to leave their homes during, or as a direct result of, the violent confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.
Bar Ilan is a self-professed religious university committed to Jewish values, or so it says. Students complained that they were offended by Sheinman’s message, and the dean of the law school, Shahar Lifshitz, responded by asking Sheinman to apologize. For what? “Both the content and the style of the letter,” wrote the dean, “contravene the values of the university and the law faculty.” One can only wonder which values he meant. Minimal empathy for human suffering (apart from Jewish suffering) is apparently not one of them. I think that in the five decades I have lived in Israel, this statement by an official spokesman at a recognized Israeli university is the most surreal, and possibly the most disgraceful, I have seen.
Such events should be juxtaposed with others, of a different kind (and, sadly, on a different scale). On July 26, a pro-peace demonstration took place at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Some five or six thousand people turned up despite the overwhelming public atmosphere of war hysteria, an attempt by the police to close down the demonstration in advance, and the inevitable presence in the square of right-wing phalangists, who indeed brutally attacked some of the participants with clubs and pepper spray as they were beginning to disperse. One sign held by a demonstrator caught my eye. Pieces of the Israeli and Palestinian flags were superimposed on one another, and the text read: “There’s enough guilt to go around.”
But more important, and ultimately more hopeful, is what has been happening in the West Bank.