Four Palestinian boys between the ages of 9 and 11, all cousins, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza beach on Wednesday morning. The Washington Post‘s Israel correspondent William Booth is stationed in a hotel close to the location of the strike, and wrote a graphic eyewitness account of the event:
We saw a small fisherman’s shack on the quay, churning with gray smoke.
Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second strike landed right behind them.
The staff were yelling, “They’re hurt!”
A half-dozen kids made it to the hotel. A young man also reached safety and fainted. He was bleeding from the abdomen…. Two young terrified kids were bleeding and injured, and they were quickly bandaged on the floor of the terrace, where guests usually eat skewers of grilled chicken, suck on water pipes and watch the sun go down.
Meanwhile, the first Israeli victim of the conflict, Dror Khenin, was buried in the city of Yahud today. Sophia Jones, The Huffington Post‘s Middle East correspondent, posted a picture of the funeral on Instagram with the caption: “Sobbing relatives. Many ppl here to mourn. Meanwhile in Gaza, over 200 people have been killed, mostly civilians. Anger on both sides.”
Amidst this bleak news, it’s worth reading Etgar Keret’s July 14 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, in which he suggests redefining the way we talk about the resolution of the conflict. Instead of calling for peace—a romanticized, “debilitating word”—Keret suggests that Israelis and Palestinians use the term “compromise” instead:
Peace, by definition, is compromise between sides, and in that kind of compromise, each side has to pay a genuine, heavy price, not just in territories or money but also in a true change of worldview.
That’s why the first step might be to stop using the debilitating word “peace,” which has long since taken on transcendental and messianic meanings in both the political left and right wings, and replace it immediately with the word “compromise.” It might be a less rousing word, but at least it reminds us that the solution we are so eager for can’t be found in our prayers to God but in our insistence on a grueling, not always perfect dialogue with the other side.
True, it’s more difficult to write songs about compromise, especially the kind my son and other kids can sing in their angelic voices. And it doesn’t have the same cool look on T-shirts. But in contrast to the lovely word that demands nothing of the person saying it, the word “compromise” insists on the same preconditions from all those who use it: They must first agree to concessions, maybe even more — they must be willing to accept the assumption that beyond the just and absolute truth they believe in, another truth may exist. And in the racist and violent part of the world I live in, that’s nothing to scoff at.
Perhaps that’s the best we can hope for now.
(Image: Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip July 16, 2014. Credit: SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images.)