Israel and Palestine: Ready to Re-examine
This week has been a challenging one in Israel and Palestine. I first want to add my voice to the many voices that have condemned the bus bombing in Jerusalem and the unnecessary taking of life that occurred. My heart is with those who have been touched by the attack, those who have been injured, those whose loved ones have been hurt or killed. Their lives are precious. I also want to add my voice to those who condemn the killing of civilians, including children, in Gaza, by Israel in their attempt to attack militants who were planning to attack Israel. My heart is with the families of Palestinians who have lost children and other loved ones whose lives are precious.
The current situation in Israel/Palestine is clearly untenable. We all know that it has been so for a long time. And once again, not surprisingly, violence and killing are the result of the power disparity and the injustice that exists in these lands. Where there is no justice there can be no peace. Where the powerful control their neighbors, there can be no healing.
In our congregation, we have been talking about the ways that synagogues are challenged in our current economic climate. There are fewer members in synagogues throughout the country and there is less money to go around. That doesn’t mean that synagogues need to cease to exist; it does mean that we need to find completely new ways to structure our congregations, to find funding, and to reach people. This kind of change is never easy. Those of us who have been involved in synagogues for our entire lives cannot even imagine an entirely new way of structuring a congregation. We often resist taking apart what we have and taking the risks needed to build something completely new.
Those of us who have been born since 1948 have never known a time when Israel did not exist as an independent Jewish state. We grew up looking at Israel as an ideal – perhaps as one that did not always live up to its highest values, but as one that always made the attempt. We grew up knowing that the way that Israel is now is the way it always needs to be.
Now, we see another week of attacks, of violence, and of killing. We see another week of pain caused to all who live in Israel and Palestine. My hope is that now, in the light of this new wave of killing, those of us who have grown up loving Israel will say, “Enough!” How long can we look at the country we love living with the pain and shame caused by their own intransigence? How long can we watch Israelis hurting and killing Palestinians in the name of their own safety? How long can we watch suicide bombers claim the lives of Israelis because of the depth of their anger and hurt, because Israel has not let them claim power in any positive way? It’s time to say, “Enough!”
There are those who say that a two-state solution is the best way to move ahead. There are those who say that will never work, only a one-state solution, shared by Israelis and Palestinians will work. And there are those who say that neither is possible. I have no crystal ball, but one thing is perfectly clear to me. If Israel does not open up all possibilities for examination and discussion, nothing will work. If we stay where we are, there will be only more pain and killing.
It is true in our congregations and it is true in Israel. The visions that we grew up with were lovely, but they are not real. Opening up new possibilities and allowing everything to be examined and something new to be tried is the only way to move forward. I hope that Jews around the world can all push Israel to begin to look closely at what the current situation is doing to its humanity and to the Palestinians who are touched by its rule before even greater violence occurs.