What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried To Kill Your Wife? …is the title of the book I am currently reading. Written by David Harris-Gershon. I was attracted to it because of the title and its example of this complex question.
How do we forgive?Many life situations can be levelled to good/ bad or right/wrong. This is just two opinions but what often occurs in this difference is righteousness, hate and anger. Ego. On some level, this dehumanises and damages both parties, and destroys any possibility of peace. I thought this was interesting and moving because damage to a loved one isn’t an easy thing to get over. Also, it seems significant because the final lines, when I read them, make me weep and gave me hope. If he can forgive, then there is hope for the rest of us?
(Just to give you a little background.This is the bit where the main character David has finally met the children and family of a Hamas bomber who attempted to kill his wife many years ago. His wife was left with third degree burns over more than 30% of her body. The bomb smashed her ear drum and destroyed much of her intestines. She and he went through agonising pain in her recovery.)
“I would learn that Mohammed was born in 1973 a year before me…. (that) he returned home after successfully bombing Hebrew University on July 31st to his family and ate dinner. That he was captured at his home three weeks later, dragged away by police in front of his wife and son…I would learn that Mohammed was a dedicated killer and that he was rewarded for his dedication with 9 counts of murder, 84 counts of attempted murder, 5 counts of aiding the enemy during war…. And I would learn other things. I would learn that Mariam ( his daughter) was organising peace initiatives amongst her East Jerusalem students’ basketball games between Israeli and Palestinian children. I would learn that his family had asked after me and my family, had extended an invitation to visit anytime. I would learn that those people were now my friends. That I would expand the definition of friend to include them. And in including them, I would feel finished. Feel it was done. And though it was a door I couldn’t lock – never learning first hand if Mohammed’s words of remorse were true – just closing the door was enough.
Reconciliation – it had happened to some degree. And in happening had impressed upon me the force of restorative dialogue. In the capacity for release, for unclogging the synaptic pores and letting loose all the filth which was contained within. I had not picked up a gun. I had not involuntarily sought revenge, nor had I succumbed to any form of demonic violence as a way to exact justice. I just got on a plane, sat on a coach, and provided an opportunity for my subconscious voice to say as Mariam translated streams of arabic, My God, they are not monsters. They are not monsters. And in understanding this – they are not monsters – I understand that maybe, maybe there is hope for this world. For this land. For my people.”