The Jewish faith teaches us that the loss of any human being is tragic, as each individual is a unique creation of God. Our tradition calls on us to affirm life, not snuff it out. The Jewish community in Miami grieves with the families on both sides of the Gaza conflict who have lost loved ones. Their pain has changed their lives forever, and we pray for their healing.
It is clear that the terrorist group Hamas has squandered the opportunity it was given to lead its people to a better future. Instead of building an infrastructure that would improve the lives of the Palestinians who live in Gaza, Hamas has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building tunnels and stockpiling armaments meant to inflict irreparable harm to Israel. While Israel uses its weapons to defend its people, Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons.
Over the last couple of years, Hamas, because of its own failures and poor decisions, has lost standing and most of its backers in the Muslim world. This latest aggression was meant to make it appear relevant once again, as the leaders of the resistance against Israel.
Unfortunately for Hamas — and fortunately for us — the ideology of resistance and the call for Israel’s destruction are obsolete and out of touch with reality. We know from too many examples in history, when ideology supersedes humanity, it will always lead to demagoguery. And the people will suffer.
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Additionally, in this latest round of fighting, we are seeing an alarming trend of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in many of the world’s capitals, including here in the United States. While this is understandable given the large numbers of Muslim refugees and immigrants both in Europe and in this country, the venomous calls for “death to the Jews” and “Hitler was right” belie a virulent anti-Semitic poison that has not gone away. While I would love to see support from our well-meaning Christian friends, we Jews are in this together and we must stand to protect Israel and ourselves.
It is clear that our current approach isn’t working. Palestinians must accept the reality of Israel, demilitarize and promise real safety and peace. Israel must end the occupation of these people and grant them full nationhood. In order to get there, we must leave the past behind, stop the blame game, find a way to forgive one another, learn to trust and learn to co-exist. At this moment that might sound and feel utopian, but until it happens, we will continue to witness death and destruction.
Let’s pray and work for a lasting peace.
Rabbi Terry Bookman,
Temple Beth Am, Miami