What we really need now? A politics of love

Fear and pain flow in the streets, between Gaza and Sderot, between Hebron and Jerusalem, forcing us to think about providing enough compassion for one another so we can come to solutions to the violence.

By Mijal Simonet Corech

Once, Israeli academic Yael Berda and I came up with an expression: “politics of love.” We never really got down it to its basics — we never needed to; somehow we both knew what we meant. According to this kind of politics, first and foremost, you feel sad when you hear that a man and a woman — parents of four children — were shot to death. You feel it in your body, and your feet have a hard time walking. And you cannot help but think about that four-month old girl who will never know her mother. Even if her mother made choices that I would not make, ones that I believe make other peoples’ lives difficult and prevent them from living a life of dignity — even then the politics of love mourn her.

Through the politics of love one can look at the 19-year-old who stabbed two people to death in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday night and see a child. A child who was so deeply hurt and humiliated by something — even if the entire world won’t understand (or doesn’t want to understand) how the holiness of a place, of the Noble Sanctuary, of a stone, can even hurt — that turned him into a murderer, and turned his mother into a bereaved parent.

And all the politics of love would see was the river of pain that flows between our fingers, between all those murdered, washing over our streets, between Gaza and Sderot, and think about how to provide enough compassion for one another so that we find solutions.

Looking back over these, I know that the politics of love can sound naive. After all, we are at war. All the time, everywhere, on every corner, with one another: Jews with Arabs, secular with religious, Ashkenazim with Mizrahim, and let’s not even start talking about women who must rescue themselves from men. After all, how will I implement a politics of love when it comes to arms dealers or the people who run this country?

There is no doubt that a politics of love is the most difficult kind. But even today I see no alternative. I have no clue how to implement it, and I find myself feeling — at least a thousand times a day — anger, hatred, fear (a lot of fear) walking through this hostile place full of the words we have spoken and deeds we have committed. But I have no choice. I must, somehow, find the way to implement a politics of love. Even if I have no idea how to do so yet.

Mijal Simonet Corech works for Shatil and is a former journalist for Haaretz and Ma’ariv. She lives in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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