Like so many others, I have been deeply disturbed and quite despondent over recent events in the waters off of Gaza. I wanted to write something here, but was loath to add to the wanton opining from a distance by many who seem so ready to add fuel to an already raging conflagration.
Then earlier today, I received some words of wisdom from my friend Rabbi Ken Chasen - guidance that I believe provides both the perspective and the intention we need to have in response to the crisis. I have shared them with you below:
Ever since we awakened on Memorial Day to the awful news regarding the Gaza flotilla tragedy, our hearts have been heavy with concern, both for the dead and wounded and for the future of Israel and its neighbors. As we have attempted to sort through our own feelings of despair and outrage, we have been immersed in a sea of conflicting accounts, opinions and condemnations, all of which have served to confuse more than to clarify. We will surely need to display some patience in order to understand the specifics of what did and did not happen on that ship off of Gaza, but in the meantime, we do not have the luxury of patience as we seek to do our part in charting a course that ensures a democratic Israel living peacefully with its neighbors.
In the aftermath of Monday’s events, one thing is clearer than ever before – the status quo which produced this standoff simply cannot be perpetuated anymore. With great pain, we have seen yet again that the status quo neither creates long-term security for Israelis nor affords proper human dignity to Palestinians, especially in Gaza, where the suffering is undeniable. Nobody is winning this war, yet both sides seem unable to choose a different course of action.
At this time of deep frustration and fears about the future, I hope you will join with me in advocating for a bold change of direction in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. It will require courage to choose a different future. There are many reasons to question the safety, fairness or practicality of the various alternatives to the status quo. But we already know where the road upon which we are currently traveling leads. Monday provided only the latest evidence. To continue down that same road and expect a different result is irrational and, as we have seen again this week, endlessly destructive.
May we look back years from now and remember this tragedy as the catalyst that led at last to a better tomorrow. If we want it to happen, we must join in making it so.~ Rabbi Ken Chasen (excerpt from an email to the congregants of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles)