So, they’ve killed three of ours and we’ve killed one of theirs and what have gained? An elevated sense of aggression on both sides, calls for more violence and vengeance as well as a greater divide (if that was even possible!) between the two peoples.
What a horrible week!
Earlier in the week, I was filled with sadness and pain at the loss of three of Jewish teens. I could not see a path forward toward peace for Israelis and Palestinians. It was such a senseless, cruel crime and I sensed so little remorse or guilt on the part of Palestinian leaders. It was no big deal. It was simply a way to get Israel’s – and maybe the world’s – attention.
Now, as we get closer to the end of the week, I am filled with anger and shame. Although the facts have not yet been established, it seems pretty clear that an Israeli (or Israelis) decided to avenge the deaths of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal by killing a Palestinian teen. My only comfort is the near-unanimous outrage among Israeli and Jewish leaders in response to this heinous act.
Upon hearing the news of this revenge killing, the family of Naftali Fraenkel (one of the three murdered teens) issued a statement: “There is no difference between blood and blood. Murder is murder, whatever the nationality and age. There is no justification, nor forgiving, and no atonement for any murder.”
At about the same time, the father of Muhammed Abu Khubair – the murdered Palestinian boy – said in an interview: “I am against kidnapping and killing. Whether Jew or Arab, who can accept the kidnapping and killing of his son or daughter? I call on both sides to stop the bloodshed.”
What powerful statements! If only the people most prone to violence were listening. Sadly, I suspect that their pleas will go unanswered. More violence is sure to come.
This Shabbat, we will read a Haftarah (prophetic selection) from the Book of Micah in which the prophet asked the questions: “With what shall I approach the Lord, do homage to God on high? Shall I approach Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriads of streams of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for my sins?”
The answer is a resounding “NO!” Instead Micah told the people: “It has been shown to you, O mortal, what is good, and what Adonai requires of you: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Surely, enough children have been sacrificed in vain. I pray that justice, mercy and humility will one day prevail in the Holy Land. I pray that others will follow the lead of the Fraenkel and Abu Khubair families.