If our TaNaCh (Bible) represents the dawn of the human record, human conflict takes place by the first generation. We read about how Cain’s jealousy leads him to murder his brother Abel. There is little doubt that Cain feels totally justified in this treacherous act. How else could he actually have perpetrated it?
And as we progress through the chapters of Genesis, we see this theme of destructive competition repeated through the behavior of Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob and Joseph and his brothers.
The truth is, it doesn’t end there. The chronicle of mankind is a sorry pilgrimage of the desire – down to our own time – for conquest, domination, and revenge. Despite the fact that violent reactions only produce more violent reactions, the lesson hasn’t been learned over the experience of millennia.
As a rabbi in our community, I recognize the demand to respond to the crisis we face in Gaza. Like so many, I’m deeply troubled by the events going on locally and globally. I realize that I’m as entitled to my opinion as much as the next person, but at the same time, I feel an added responsibility to express those opinions with a certain level of wisdom, despite the fact that I’m not a trained political scientist – my knowledge is based primarily on the sacred texts of the Jewish Tradition and having more than a passing familiarity with the rise of modern Zionism.
All this brings me to some conclusions regarding the original role and purpose of the Land of Israel and – according to the TaNaCh – the reason why this particular area of real estate was promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants. This may well merit consideration at another time.
HOWEVER, at this present moment, regarding the current crisis, a few things appear abundantly clear – at least, to me:
1. NONE OF THIS WOULD BE HAPPENING IF HAMAS HAD NOT LAUNCHED ITS BRUTAL, MURDEROUS ATTACK ON ISRAEL ON OCTOBER 7TH.
2. IF HAMAS HAD AGREED TO NEGOTIATE THE RETURN OF THE HOSTAGES WITHIN DAYS OF THE ATTACK, THIS CRISIS WOULD HAVE BEEN AVERTED.
– In fact, if Hamas were ready to return the hostages NOW, hostilities would be suspended.
3. Hamas (and Iran) calculated on world reaction as it currently stands – reflecting the present under-current of anti-Jewish sentiment and Palestinians being viewed, since the Six Day War, as “underdogs”.�
4. While it’s legitimate and necessary to understand the difference in narratives of each side, current public opinion is based on the general ignorance regarding the historic events which led to the establishment of the State of Israel, and the political reactions of the surrounding Arab countries.
Essentially, I’m left with the depth of my own religious beliefs. I believe that our Divine Sovereign and Creator is ultimately in control of events; that the land itself belongs to the Eternal One, and that it was “given” to the descendants of Abraham to be a place where the Divine Presence might be made manifest to the rest of the world through acts of kindness and compassion, truth and justice.
While I struggle to understand all the manifest evil I perceive taking place on the world stage, I still believe – in the face of the thousands of years during which we have yearned to achieve Universal Peace, that…
“the One who establishes Peace in His High Places, will establish Peace over us and all Israel…
“And let us say, ‘Amen!’”