November 22, 2014 [51 years after John F. Kennedy's assassination] : "We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process." (Martin Luther King)
Some of us find it difficult to understand the exact meaning of this sentence about ends and means.
The end, in that sense, is the final goal that we pursue.
The means are the ways and tools that we use to reach our final goal.
Take the case of the attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, on November 18, 2014. Killing 4 rabbis and maiming 7 other worshippers in the midst of their morning prayers. The “final goal”, as claimed by a Palestinian party (PFLP), may have been a vehement protest against the Occupation, but it has been clouded in blood and totallydisfigured by the means used: knives, meat cleaver, gun.
Likewise, the mass knife attack at the Kunming train station in China, on March 1, 2014, that left 29 dead and 130 wounded. Or the attack on Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, on October 28, 2014, when a four-wheel drive vehicle ploughed through a group of pedestrians, killing 5, wounding dozens.
Be it in Beijing or Jerusalem, be it in the name of “jihad” in Beijing or “jihad” in Jerusalem, a vehicle used to maim and kill pedestrians and passers-by, leads to the self-destruction of the goal and of the ideal in the making.
Nor have we forgotten the box of dynamite put under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, by a group of Klansmen (Ku Klux Klan), that took the lives of 4 young girls and wounded 20, out of 26 teenage girls who were entering the church.
Was dynamite anymore legitimate when used by Klansmen in 1963, or by “extreme-right” Irgun men (disguised as Arabs) at the King David Hotel, in Jerusalem, on July 22, 1946, which took the lives of 91 of various nationalities and wounded 46 ?
Were guns legitimate when used by a Jewish “far-right” Kach gunman who killed 29 Palestinian Muslims during their prayers at the Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron on February 25, 1994, wounding 125 others ?
Are guns legitimate when used by Somali Al Shabab gunmen, this 22nd of November 2014, before dawn, to hijack a bus and kill all the non-Somali passengers who could not recite a passage of the Koran ? 28 passengers on the road to Nairobi, in Mandera county, Kenya could not “prove they were Muslims” and were executed point-blank in the head.
Beware, now, if you still pretend that you do not understand about means and ends. Too many, from Jordan to Jerusalem, and all over, claim that, somehow, violence is a “natural response”, given the circumstances of the ongoing Occupation.
Surely we either ignore or have forgotten about the fate of Denise McNair, of Birmingham, Alabama, who should be 62 today; or that of Addie Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, who should be 65; but the road to terror is the same, that leads from Jerusalem in 1946 to Jerusalem in 2014, and from Birmingham in 1963 to Hebron in 1994 and Kunming, Tiananmen, Mandera County in 2014. These four girls are still staring us in the face, although their pictures are blurred, as are staring us in the face four other little girls, killed in Gaza in early July: Yasmin Al Mutawaq, at the age of 3, from Jabaliya; Raneem Ghafoor, 1, from Khan Yunis; Safa Malaka, 6, and Marwa al Batsh, 7, from Gaza City. Along with 500 other children, they were not killed by Klansmen acting out of racial hatred, but by educated tank operators, jet-bomber and helicopter pilots who acted upon orders, firing missiles and shells from a safe distance.
We do not have pictures of Yasmin, Raneem, Safa and Marwa. We are just thankful that one British newspaper, The Telegraph, on August 26, 2014, published the list of the children killed in Gaza during 50 days of conflict, and named them. You still can find pictures of slain children in Gaza online, as you can find pictures of 4-year old Daniel Tregerman, killed by a mortar shell, in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, on August 23, 2014 - along with pictures of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, kidnapped inGush Etzion, North of Hebron, and murdered on June 12, 2014; followed by Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, kidnapped in Shuafat and burned alive in the Jerusalem Foreston July 2, 2014.
Beware, now, if you are tempted to think that the road to terror that leads from one mass bombing to another mass attack, driven by retaliation, is legitimate – whether the means employed is the knife, the meat-cleaver, the car, the gun, the explosives, or the Apache helicopter.
Beware, if you call for more such attacks, under the delusion that they will get anyone closer to “liberation” or "preservation". Think of Syria today. Think of Iraq. Think of Libya. Think of Egypt, so close.
We are not doomed automatons ! We do have a choice, each of us. Between the peaceful, hopeful Tunisian way, or the appalling, terrifying Syrian way. It all starts with your own words and decisions, whether to speak and act, in favor of the knife, the gun, the bomb, the Apache, or to refrain from rushing to the abyss, keeping a clear view of the vital or fatal connection between ways and means.
You will never build a better, freer world with people who treat human beings like meat, and whose symbols have become the meat-cleaver and the kitchen knife.
Beware of a society in which butchers in a frenzy, and blind executioners, would become the norm. Be it at point-blank, or from a comfortable distance. No one is a “hero” for shedding blood !
If there is a "comfortable distance" to keep, it is for us to keep between those who want to kill and maim, and the rest of us who believe in the sanctity of human life. Any human life.
In his last speech in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King left us this warning :
“It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. This is where we are today.”
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