Over at the Washington Post, various “On Faith” contributors are debating Gaza. The responses to the question (which has to do with “new ways to address the humanitarian, economic, security, and political” situation) are the usual mixed bag, but the one that particularly caught my eye was this from former Andover Seminary Christian Ethics professor Valerie Elverton Dixon:
Just Peace theory recognizes the basic human need for respect. Justice grows from the recognition of the legitimate expectations and claims of a people. Respect for the enemy requires the face to face encounter. It requires negotiations. The truth is that, no matter the history of violence between adversaries, at some point, they will have to sit down together, reason together and negotiate peace.
Thus, the moral thing for Israel to do is to negotiate peace directly with Hamas even if Hamas does not recognize its right to exist. Hamas ought to take a lesson from the ANC and suspend rocket attacks into Israel for the sake of peace talks. It ought to release any Israelis they are holding as a sign of good faith. Each side ought to be willing to take an independent initiative for the sake of peace. This is a just peace principle.
Now, that’s all fine and good, and in a world comprised of rational people, I might well agree with her to some extent (though the idea of negotiating with an enemy that doesn’t grant your right to exist strikes me as internally contradictory). But what Dixon and so many reasonable people refuse to recognize is what Israel is up against. I wonder what Dixon would have to say about this rant from Abdallah Jarbu’, Hamas’ deputy minister of religious endowments, on Al-Aqsa TV on February 28 of this year (translation via the Middle East Media Research Institute):
[The Jews] suffer from a mental disorder, because they are thieves and aggressors. A thief or an aggressor, who took property or land, develops a psychological disorder and pangs of conscience, because he took something that wasn’t his.
They want to present themselves to the world as if they have rights, but, in fact, they are foreign bacteria – a microbe unparalleled in the world. It’s not me who says this. The Koran itself says that they have no parallel: “You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews.”
May He annihilate this filthy people who have neither religion nor conscience. I condemn whoever believes in normalizing relations with them, whoever supports sitting down with them, and whoever believes that they are human beings. They are not human beings. They are not people. They have no religion, no conscience, and no moral values.
So here’s the question to Dixon and those who think as she does: how do you negotiate with people who don’t even recognize your humanity?