An inability to form a government; a restless population; an ongoing, unresolved national, religious and territorial conflict spanning generations; a presidential administration in transition; and provocations expressed by extremism of all kinds; it’s a tragic, horrifying and dangerous perfect storm for violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet again.
Our hearts break, yet again, for our brothers and sisters in Israel who have been killed, gravely injured, traumatized and terrorized by falling lethal rockets from Gaza. Unquestionably, Israel has the right and must exercise that right to defend itself and deter further attacks against its citizens and its borders.
As Jews and as humans, our hearts break again for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives as well. Images of Israelis and Palestinians living in radical fear at the borders and the interior must remain intolerable to us; must demand of us compassion, action, justice and the tireless pursuit of peace. The right to live in safety and self-determination is why Israel was created in the first place. We must demand of everyone involved hope and not fear.
Now more than ever we need leaders who can build the will to create and sustain a cease fire. Now more than ever we need leaders who recognize the pain and suffering unnecessarily inflicted upon innocent lives when war’s destructive weapons are deployed. Now more than ever we need to recognize that there is very little that is black and white in politics and that ultimately, territorial and existential conflict such as this is resolved through dialogue and bold leadership, not violence.
Us versus Them will not resolve this entrenched battle between Israelis and Palestinians. Destabilizing division, hatred and violence have woven a dangerous, destructive path.
We need Together, as impossible as it is to imagine right now, in order for justice and peace to prevail for all the inhabitants of the land.
For the past fifteen months, my study group has been immersed in a daily examination of sacred Jewish texts, traversing the ancient and contemporary for a glimpse into the wisdom of Jewish civilization. When faced with war again in Israel, it may be tempting to quote Proverbs and sigh in anguish that “there is nothing new under the sun.” But the greater commanding voice which roars from our texts reminds us that the human was created in the image of the Divine; and that the animation of God on earth is expressed through the pursuit of love, justice and peace.
This is our work; this is our mission; this must be our flame of undying hope.