Dear Ms. Beller:
I read and reread your column on the death by terrorism of your teacher Joan Davenny [“Remembering Joan: How Should We Respond to Loss in Israel?” Aug. 23, 2013]. I realize that the loss of someone you liked and respected gives war a face for you. In the same vein, Anne Frank put an individual face on the Shoah which touched millions of people in a way that tomes of literature about the Holocaust could not do.
Her death also elicited different responses. Some, guided by her father, became socialists and pacifists. Others were more attuned to the principle of “never again” and the necessity for a strong Israel, and even that led to debates about the ways to achieve a strong Israel.
Your own response is curious to me. You make an assumption that Joan Davenny hated no one and you pledge to adopt that mode. You speculate without any foundation that Joan was the sort of person who might have struck up a friendly conversation with the killer. Then, using your memory of Joan you segue into your enthusiasm for the John Kerry efforts to wrest more concessions from Israel in search of an illusory peace.
The terror attack on a bus that killed Joan Davenny occurred in August 1995 – almost two decades ago and two years after the Oslo agreements in which Israel made unprecedented and enormous concessions to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Arab perpetrators of that infamous attack. If Joan Davenny were a spectator rather than a victim how can you be so sure that she would not have hated the killers?
After all, even die-hard doves were shocked by the spree of murders that followed the Oslo accords which granted Yasser Arafat and his minions free access into the Israeli-controlled West Bank. The numbers are stark. The number of people killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists in the five years immediately after the Oslo accord (256) was greater than the number killed in the 15 years preceding the agreement (216).
And, after Oslo, there was another stab at peace processing in the infamous Sharon plan, which gifted the Arabs with Gaza and elicited a rain of rockets in Israel’s heartland.
So you say “cynicism is an understandable response after decades of failed attempts and disappointments.” And you parrot the clichés of “real risks and painful compromises” which will be necessary to achieve the two-state solution.
I would counter that it is realism to reject any more appeasements and concessions to murderers who rejoice and celebrate the murderers of innocents like Joan Davenny.
You say it won’t be easy “but if we don’t expose ourselves to the sting, we may never taste the honey.” Nice twist on Israel’s being known as the land of milk and honey. And you are so certain that the road to peace lies in Israel displaying “the milk of human kindness.”
Well, let me remind you of Shakespeare’s take from Macbeth: “Mary is completely hard and selfish – she doesn’t have the milk of human kindness in her. Roger is too full of the milk of human kindness and people take advantage of him.”
New York, NY