Part 2: No More killing or Dying

While watching a film with his girlfriend, Itamar was bewildered by the desperate struggle between two on-screen warriors to kill each other. He wondered why, having killed all the others, these two men didn’t just stop or walk away. “Maybe they felt having killed so many they had no reason to live. All their lives they would be killers". Later Itamar remembered that he too had killed. This memory led him to reflect on how Palestinian children saw him – as the ultimate evil. It was a painful irony: his belief that a large number of people saw him in the same way he saw the Nazis when he was a child.

At 17 Bassam went to an Israeli prison for seven years. For Bassam prison was the "university of life"; in particular a relationship with an Israeli prison guard transformed his life. They accused one another of being 'the settler' and agreed to weekly discussions over who was the 'terrorist’, who was the ‘freedom fighter’ and who was the settler. After eight months the prison guard agreed that he was the settler. Bassam came to understand that "through dialogue it’s possible to change the most extreme mind". For Jessica Benjamin the story illustrates so well how two enemies co-create a Moral Third together, proving that even in adversity and under oppression there can be genuinely human relationships.

Itamar then relates the story of his grandparents and the collective village farm where they lived, and where he worked for several months after military service. It was here that he got to know a Palestinian from Gaza who had also worked for his grandfather. Dwelling on the heavy-handedness and collective punishment of the Israeli army in Gaza, it began to trouble Itamar that he could be called up for reserve duty and have to take this Palestinian out of his house at night to act as a shield while he searched other homes. Jessica Benjamin says Itamar has broken through dissociation and denial. Bassam and Itamar have both stepped out of denial of their respective collective narratives, violence and killing.

Comments are closed