Today is not a day for moral pronouncements. It is a day to feel the anguish of Israelis and Palestinians as our world writhes.
I've received many, many requests from members of our shul and the larger community to comment on the Gaza Flotilla incident early Monday morning. There is an overabundance of those seeking to make clear statements in the immediate aftermath of the encounter, but I would suggest that the comments heard since then reflect the convictions of the commentators more than the truth of what unfolded.
Youtube is pulsing with close-up videos of the incident, and Facebook is full of emotional comments and links. I've posted some of the links I find useful on my personal Facebook profile, and on my blog. They are not exhaustive, but they do represent my exhausted heart. I do believe, beneath it all, that Israel fell into a trap, which was designed to provoke the global attention that has been riveted since Monday morning.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote in 2001, when the Oslo peace process broke down and suicide bombings intensified:
"In the past, Israel's enemies have tried to put it in a military crisis and failed. Then they tried to put it in a political crisis and failed. Now they are about to put it in a spiritual crisis , and they may succeed."
The dividing line between "us" and "them" that Sacks assumes is an enormous part of the problem. But Sacks is not incorrect. There are those who seek Israel's downfall. And this week's events include and have invited their dangerous voices as well. There is need for the unique spirit of Netivot Shalom today, more than ever. We are lovers of Israel and activists for the safety and welfare of all people.
I ask you to dig deep and pray for all those injured, the families of the dead, and for a better day for Palestinians and for Israelis. We will offer a special Misheberach this coming Shabbat articulating a spiritual response to this week's pain. It cannot stand alone, but it will aim to give voice to our struggling souls.
I ask you to join me at Israel in the Gardens this Sunday, where, more than ever, Israel needs us to focus not only on the political and on the pain, but rather to affirm the reasons for our unconditional love for Israel, and our commitment to help realize the power of Israel's potential in the world. We need to sing and dance, chevreh - Israel isn't about pain, it's about Jewish pride, which of course has made these past days excruciating for the global Jewish community.
Praying for the welfare of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples,
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…