Re: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words?

Date: Thu May 06 2004 - 13:15:56 PDT

Dear Ana,
Concerning what you wrote:
>> The tragedy for the ordinary soldiers
on all sides is that they all have to believe that their cause is the
just cause and that they are doing what they are doing to defend their
people from some evil. If they don't believe that, they are either
psychopaths or criminals who kill for money. If they do, they are just
the marionettes in the hands of the higher powers who direct them. <<
You are viewing this issue from a perspective of the Vietnam War and the Iraq
War. The US can deal with its security issues (after 9/11) by stepping up
immigration control – Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Vietnam have no common
border with the US – the ocean separates the US from its enemies. But in the
case of the Arab-Israel wars the situation is completely different. My husband
and his comrades didn't have to be indoctrinated to believe that their duty
was to fight, they saw what went on with their own eyes:
In the summer preceding the Egyptian invasion of Oct. 1973, my husband lived
in Eilat and worked on the pipelines in Sinai. He and other 'uneducated'
workmen saw the Egyptian troops very clearly – but unlike the 'experts' he
knew very well what the meaning of this was. The general assumption among the
workmen was that war would soon break out. The irresponsibility of Moshe
Dayan, Her Royal Highness Golda Meir, Hayim Bar-Lev et al. was that they
preferred not to risk their reputation with Kissinger &Co. at the expense of
exposing the simple soldiers unprepared and unequipped at the front. In other
words their political carreers meant more than the lives of numerous soldiers
(aged 18+) who were killed, because of neglect and indifference. Those corrupt
leaders weren't there at the front, so they didn't pay the price of their own
vanity and ego – those who fought did!

>> Without denigrating any soldier who was put into a
situation to defend their own people, I think that the real task in
resolving issues is on the politicians and diplomats. <<
War is a messy, ugly business but if a country is threatened there is no other
choice but to fight – this fact simple folks like my husband and his comrades
understood whilst their Royal Highnesses were too busy having cocktail parties
with Kissinger &Co. to be concerned. Chamberlain also thought that an
intellectual discussion would save the world from a blood-thirsty determined
Hitler – Churchill on the other hand had a more realistic perception (his
common-sense saved the UK from the fate of Czechoslovakia which Chamberlain
was happy to sacrifice).
Concerning the US-Iraq war: the seeds of 9/11 were sewn when the US mixed in
the USSR-Afghan war. The US administration was eager to double-cross the USSR
and so they supplied the Taliban with weapons and military training to do the
dirty work for them versus the USSR; BUT they were so sure they could count on
the eternal gratitude of the Taliban, they never bothered to investigate
Muslim culture and mentality to make sure this was true. The Taliban of course
exploited the US ethno-centric naivetι to the fullest – as we saw on 9/11. The
same mistake was committed again by Bush-senior and again by Clinton – so Bush-
junior on 9/11 was left with the unsolved problem. A culture were
death/suicide is a religious value can not be dealt with by intellectual
discussions – the process is long and frustrating and in the meantime the
innocent have to be protected – e.g. it took centuries until Christianity
became a culture where the Inquisition and the Crusades ceased to be religious
values – even today there still exist Christian sects who preserve this
tradition (e.g. the Klu-Klux-Klan).

>> To me, war is a disintegration of a civil society, caused
by irresponsible, criminal, ignorant, greedy, etc. individuals in
positions of power they could use to prevent any violence long before it
comes to its eruption. However, once it comes to that that you have to
be a "Simcha" -- you have nothing else left but your own body and
consciousness. And those who really caused a war (on all sides) have
already deserted all the Simchas, and had long before ran away with all
the spoils.<<
Indeed, war is the result of corruption and greed, but the simple folks who
never asked for war are left dealing with it and paying the price. I'm proud
and happy that when one cuts beneath the moldy layer of the corrupt political-
economic elite in Israeli society, one finds a beautiful culture of solidarity
and willingness to reach out to one another. There were so many humble folks
who proved to be true heroes and never expected to receive special privileges
or even recognition for what they did. For example Rabbi Haim Sabato an
educator and author who was a 19-year-old tank gunner on the Golan Heights
during the Yom-Kippur War. He belongs to a Rabbinic dynasty from Aleppo,
Syria. His family moved to Egypt where he was born. He immigrated to Israel
with his family when he was six. In his book, "Adjusting Sights" (trans.
Hillel Halkin) he describes the war from his unique cultural perspective. The
focus of his account is the strong friendship and mutual solidarity between
him and his childhood friends, who served together with him in the same tank
battalion. One reviewer, Abie Harari from Brooklyn, NY United States, an ex-
student of Rabbi Sabato ( writes: "This book was written by a man
whom I personally studied under while spending half a year at his Yeshiva in
Maaleh Adumim, Israel. I can not even begin to describe his pure love and
dedication to everything he does, and how he touches the hearts of so many of
his followers. He comes from a great family of Rabbis which mostly moved to
Israel some 40 years ago. His approach to his student body seemed to be
unattached and uninterested, but I quickly learned the opposite was true-that
he chose this method so that no student should feel left out, and he would
always say that everyone should feel free to approach him to speak. I
approached him many times and his advice is filtered from all impurities that
a normal mind would usually take into account."
Another reviewer, a US soldier from South Carolina serving in Iraq, writes:
"I am currently serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq and I just finished reading
this wonderful book. As a religious person and a soldier it was amazing to me
to read so many of my own thoughts and feelings in this book. This is a man
who understands war and the part faith plays in the development of a soldier,
as well as the resources soldiers may have in battle. He doesn't avoid the
hard questions, but faces them head on. It is beautifully written, and the
images will stay with me for a long time. The icing on the cake is the
enhanced love the reader receives for the Land, the history and the People of
This review surprised me because it didn't occur to me that a US soldier would
identify with what this Egyptian-born Israeli Rabbi experienced 30 years ago.
This is an interesting case of inter-cultural understanding.

Alisa L.

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