It has been a devastating couple of days in Israel and Gaza.
I believe that the Israeli people, who have for years endured a barrage of rocket attacks targeting innocents and designed to create terror, instability and havoc, have the right and the obligation to defend themselves. I also believe that the Palestinian people, both in Gaza and the West Bank, have suffered terribly and deserve to live full and dignified lives. And I happen to agree with the editors of The New York Times that the best way for Israel to diminish the potency of Hamas — which poses a genuine threat to Israel — is to engage earnestly and immediately in peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
But most critically at this hour, I believe that there is a real and profound need for all of us to witness with empathy and grace. Take a breath. We are deeply entrenched in our narratives of good and evil, victim and perpetrator — and we are scared. Over 1 million Israelis will sleep in bomb shelters tonight and rockets have nearly reached Tel Aviv. So it’s tempting to dig in our heels, to diminish the loss on the other side of the border, even to gloat. This is not the Jewish way. However you feel about the wisdom and timing of Israel’s response to the Hamas threat, the people of Israel need our strong support and solidarity. At the same time, supporting Israel’s right to protect and defend itself does not diminish the reality that the Palestinian people are also children of God, whose suffering is real and undeniable.
Let us pray that this conflict comes to an end quickly, and that we soon see a return to negotiations and a real, viable and sustainable peace.
Rabbi Sharon Brous
Rabbi Mordecai Finley is the spiritual leader of Ohr HaTorah and Professor of Jewish Thought at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California Campus.
More on the compassion controversy:
- Rabbi Sharon Brous vs. Rabbi Daniel Gordis: Betrayal or compassion? by Julie Gruenbaum Fax
- Rabbi Daniel Gordis: When balance becomes betrayal
- Rabbi Sharon Brous: Lowering the bar
- A response from Rabbi Ed Feinstein
- A response from Rabbi Mordecai Finley
- A response from Danielle Berrin
- A response from Rabbi Wolpe