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The wave of violence nowadays is disturbing for everyone, who wants peace. How
to understand this violence that cost continuously lives of human beings? It
looks so meaningless.
Twenty years ago I finished my study sociology of religion with an essay titled:
Attempt to commit suicide by teenagers. Their search for meaning in their life.
In fact this essay is very actual. Palestinians, who attack Israelis, know that
there is a big chance that they will be killed. It is an indirect way to commit
The question is, what moves them for this behaviour?
In my paper I show that young people, who don’t see any future for them and
feel their life as meaningless, see dead as a way out for missing meaning in their
life, in spite of their fear for dead.
A side effect is that in their opinion to be killed by a Israeli soldier means to
become a martyr. They remain someone after being killed, will have meaning in
I have two examples, which make clear how the situation of Palestinians feel
their life. First, a young man who lost a very good friend in the beginning of this
year. He was killed by an Israeli soldier. Three evenings in a row he went to
Rachel’s tomb to throw stones, hoping that he will be killed too. He failed. He
wonders: what wants Allah with my life.
Then in the summer he could go to Jordan to visit family of his mother. After
this visit, he changed his mind. He wanted to go to Jordan to set up his life,
away from Palestine with support from me. He saw perspective in his life and no
longer he wanted to die and stopped to throw stones.
In a talk with a taxi driver, he told me that he was tired. He asked me if I could
explain him why he was tired. I said him that his life is hard and that he didn’t
see future for his children. He confirmed this. It is for him difficult to meet
the ends: children on school and university, rent of the house and so on. All
these burdens are for him too much. I guess that his children know it and it is
hard for them to see any future for them in the Holy Land.
Another story I heard from an Israeli professor, who has for many years
contacts with the people in Silwan, a quarter south of the old city of Jerusalem.
The facilities in this Palestinian quarter are poor, especially the sewage and for
the children. Settlers try to get step by step more space for them.
To improve the facilities for the people, they started to talk with the
municipality. After five or six times, they stopped the talks by lack of progress.
She, the professor, understood well this decision.
The youth is not stupid, they see how their reality is. They experience in their
daily life structural violence by the Israeli rulers.
For some Israeli’s it was a shock that on 20 May a Palestinian truck driver
rammed into two police women.
The present deputy minister of foreign affairs Tzipi Hotovely said in her
inaugural speech last May (21?): “We expect as a matter of principle of the
international community to recognise Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in
their homeland, everywhere”. (cursive by me)
On 31 July settlers set a Palestinian house in fire near Nablus, killing the
parents and their toddler. The perpetrators are still free.
At the end of September, when the Jewish feast of Sukkot began, the Israeli
government allowed a group of Jewish fundamentalists called Atteret
HaKohanim (who explicitly believe that it is time to tear down the Al Aqsa
Mosque, rebuild the ancient Temple, and begin animal sacrifices once again) were
allowed by the Israeli government to go to the Temple Mount. Rabbi Michael
Lerner wrote this in a recent letter.
It shows a lack of respect for Muslims as faithful human beings by Israeli
Probably as a revenge for the killing of the couple and their toddler on 1
October a couple of settlers have been killed in their car by shooting, while
their four children remained unharmed. The rest is known.
Overseeing these facts, violence is almost inevitable.
The price is high. There is a further growing gap between Jews and Palestinians.
This situation will affect the Israeli society by growing domestic violence, now
and in the future by traumatized soldiers because their exercised violence
Further: Jews with North African ancestors look like an Arab. Also they can be
attacked by fanatic settlers.
Politician, who call for an end of the violence by the Palestinians, don’t show
understanding the roots of this violence. Only real peace can stop all the
In my perception real peace means that every Israeli can travel freely through
Palestine and every Palestinian can freely travel through Israel. Real peace
opens the door for meaningful life for Israelis and Palestinians.
Louis Bohte ofm