So what’s it gonna be, God? An eye for an eye, or turn the other cheek? You are such a confusing Asshole, that’s probably a good part of the reason I stopped believing in You. If one looks long enough, one can find justification for anything in Your book.
I think it was Harry Kemelman in his rabbi David Small books who first pointed out to me that “turn the other cheek” was not a Jewish concept. It was Jesus who said that, and you know how they feel about him. However, Jews don’t have a monopoly on vengeance. It’s a worldwide trait, and it leads to all sorts of trouble.
I’ve never been a turn the other cheek sort of guy. My policy has always been, if you fuck with me or mine, you’re going to pay if I can possibly manage it. I don’t believe killing is always a bad thing. We’re all going to die, and some of us deserve to die a lot sooner than others, and I can feel morally justified in helping them along. I will confess to you that I sometimes fantasize about being alone with Osama bin Laden. Me, him, and a gun in my hand. On my charitable days I put one into his forehead and that’s the end of that. On my other days (far more frequent) I put one in each kneecap, one in his belly (careful not to hit any major arteries), and sit back to enjoy the show.
Would I enjoy it? I have no idea. Probably not, I’d probably put that fourth shot into his skull fairly soon. But I don’t have any real doubts that I’d kill him. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. I’m prepared to shoulder the moral burden.
But would I suffer for it? Again, who knows? I do know that a lot of macho cops who talked as tough as I am talking find themselves plagued by guilt, nightmares, and anxiety years after the most righteous of self-defense shoots. There’s no real way to know until you get there. With Osama and a few others, I’d be prepared to risk it.
However, I’m pretty sure that if I engaged in the sort of bloodbath the Israeli hit squad in Munich engaged in, I’d end up like the hero does. Paranoid, sick to death of killing, questioning everything in my life. It takes a special sort of psychopath to do these things and sleep like a baby.
Munich offers no easy answers, so naturally Spielberg was vilified by both the Palestinians and the hard-line Israelis. People who can only see things in black and white terms. I will not condemn the assassins. The Black September terrorists did a horrible thing, and they deserved to die. You say the terrorists have wives, children, they had a point of view that deserves to be heard? No question, but so did the Israeli athletes they slaughtered. You pick up the AK-47, don’t expect to die peacefully in your sleep.
But what good did it all do? Killing one terrorist spawns more terrorists.
On the other hand … would you really feel good about saying “Oh, well, it was a damn shame, but what can we do about it?” That approach sickens me, too.
I don’t know what to do in the Middle East except keep talking. It seems even less likely to happen now than in the past … and yet it has happened, from time to time. A little progress is made … and then someone plucks out another eye in repayment for the eye lost by a countryman. It seems obvious that if you go for an eye for an eye in all situations, pretty soon you’ve got a country littered with bloody eyeballs.
I hope for a miracle over there, and I don’t believe in miracles. But one happened, in my lifetime. South Africa, for most of my life one of the moral shitholes of the planet, somehow transitioned from sanctioned slavery to a majority-rule government without major bloodshed. I have no idea if it will last; the poor blacks are still very poor, and if things are still the same in 20 years I’d say all bets are off. But it’s working so far.
The Middle East desperately needs a Nelson Mandela, somebody who can think outside the box everyone has eye-for-an-eyed themselves into, somebody with credentials so impeccable everyone has to stop, look around and say: “Well, hell, if he can forgive those who tormented him and stole half his life away, if he’s not looking to do some major eye-plucking …”
I don’t know who that might be, but I can tell you a lot of people who it won’t be: George W Bush and clueless crew, Vladimir Putin, Hamas, the PLO, and the governments of Israel and Iran.
The usual gang of idiots.