Some Thoughts on Israel and Gaza

The WORD – 11/15/12.  As Rebecca’s difficult pregnancy progressed, God told her that two nations would emerge from her womb.  After the birth of Jacob and Esau, they competed with one another from the very beginning.  It got so bad that Jacob – whose name would eventually be changed to Israel – had to leave home for twenty years in order to let Esau cool down from the whole trade-a-pot-of-stew-for-the-birthright scenario.  And it seems as though there has been conflict in the Land of Israel ever since.

It’s an incredible coincidence that we are reading the story of these two brothers who were so different and who argued over their birthright as Israel and Hamas go down the path of war and conflict once again.  It’s sad, really.  And frustrating.

I have never had rose-colored glasses when it comes to Israel.  In fact, some members of my congregation think that I am too hard on Israel.  But the truth is that Israel is not perfect.  Her democratically-elected leaders have made mistakes over the years in their dealings with the Palestinians.  That is undeniable.

However, it is also undeniable that Israel withdrew from Gaza and gave it to the Palestinians.  And the Palestinians – under the “leadership” of Hamas – have been using Gaza as a staging area for relentless attacks on Israel ever since.

Again, Israel is not perfect.  However, since becoming autonomous, the Palestinians of Gaza have built up an arsenal of missiles and rockets that can reach approximately 20% of Israel.  And, as we now unfortunately know, their rockets can reach Tel Aviv.

Just this past weekend, before Israel decided to begin surgical air strikes over Gaza, Hamas and other militant groups shot 250 missiles and rockets into Israel.  The only reason that no one was seriously hurt is that Israel has built shelters for residents across Southern Israel, and those residents wisely fled to them.

Last week at this time, my family was still without electricity as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  The stress of the situation was beginning to get to me.  I felt powerless to help my family.  My children were never in danger.  There were no deadly explosions.  Yet, I know how anxious we all felt.

I wish that Israel did not have to go down this path again, but if I were sleeping in a shelter with my children because of rockets cascading into my neighborhood, I would want my government and my army to do exactly what the Israeli government and the IDF are doing right now.

The good news from the Biblical narrative is that Jacob and Esau both grew up, both experienced success and both realized that they could co-exist.

I believe that after establishing peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan, Israel has shown that she has grown up and is ready to figure out a way to make peace with sworn enemies.  After a barrage of 250 rockets, I wish I could say the same for the Palestinians.

May the One who makes peace in the heavens make peace for us here on earth.





About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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