From 2002 to 2007, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini lived mainly in Jerusalem, where he resumed his Bible studies. These were also years of intense prayer for peace in the harshest period of the Second Intifada. A passage from one of his 2003 writings is still relevant today!
"Certainly, the hatred that has accumulated is great and weighs heavy on hearts: there are people and groups who feed on it as on a poison that while it feeds on life, at the same time kills. To overcome the idol of hatred and violence, it is very important to learn how to look at the other’s pain. The memory of suffering accumulated over so many years feeds hatred when it is a memory of oneself only, when it refers exclusively to oneself, to one's own group, to one's own just cause. If each people only look at its own pain, then the reason of resentment, retaliation, revenge will always prevail. But if the memory of pain will be also a memory of the other’s suffering, of the stranger and even of the enemy, then it can be the beginning of an understanding process. Giving voice to the others’ pain is a prerequisite for any future politics of peace.”
Thanks to the Oscar Theatre (Giacomo Poretti, Luca Doninelli and Gabriele Allevi), the words of Aeschylus in The Persians, brought to the stage by Silvio Castiglioni, have recently resounded. It is the oldest theatre tragedy that has come down to us (From 472 BC). The man, who witnessed with his own eyes the atrocious defeat of Xerxes' army at the Battle of Salamis, recounts all its horror.
What never ceases to amaze is that Aeschylus recounts the victory of his people, the Greeks, through the eyes of the Persians, through the tale of their pain. Through the eyes of the other. Aeschylus gives voice to the others’ pain, as a warning to the Athenians and to us, thus pointing the way to a possible peace. As if the poet did not want bowing to the idea of making his text a manifesto of Athens’ greatness. As if by choosing to tell the pain of a people from the point of view of the defeated one he wanted to suggest the idea that the other, the enemy, must be protected from the temptation to mock and humiliate him, to dehumanise him. Centuries and customs may separate us from Greek culture. But the one staged by Aeschylus is an exercise of humanity that we must make our own, as the Cardinal reminded us: giving voice to the pain of others is a prerequisite for any future policy of peace.
Vivian Silver (pictured), the 74-year-old pacifist was the founder of Women wage peace, one of Israel's largest peace movements created in 2014. They made us believe that only war would bring peace. But the opposite happened. Why should we continue like this?" she used to repeat. She was killed by Hamas militiamen during a raid on her home in Kibbutz Be'eri, where she had resided since 1990, sixteen years after moving from Canada."
"Gaza was not an idea or an abstract value. It was part of her life”, her friends mourned on the day her remains were identified by DNA testing, among the last to be named. Her son, Yonatan Zeigen, in an interview in the Avvenire Newspaper, harshly criticised the offensive on Gaza: “A better future will not come out of this war, neither for the Strip nor for Israel. On the contrary. When it explodes, a conflict destroys everything, that is why it must be prevented, not exacerbated. Besides, what are we bombing the Strip for? The idea of Hamas and the causes behind it cannot be defeated by military means. We have been cowardly attacked and we are cowardly attacking.”
“What I see makes me terribly afraid - says Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian intellectual, in an interview in Il Corriere della sera Newspaper-. I am worried in the immediate and also for the future. I can only hope that we will return to rational thinking. Because I do not exclude at all a generalised war in the Middle East. The two radicalisms feed off each other. In Israel, the settlers and the religious right preach the need to drive the Palestinians out, which for them is also the realisation of a divine plan. Hamas does the same in the name of Islam, and this is now reinforced by the heart-rending massacres perpetuated in Gaza.”