Wednesday, 2 July 2014
What to do now?
Following the devastating news on Monday that 3 kidnapped Israeli students,Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach had been murdered by terrorists we have all been in shock; the funerals yesterday were deeply moving. I've said this before, but I will say this again : our hearts and prayers are will the 3 families & friends, your Jewish brothers and sisters are all with you during this difficult time.
Clearly there needs to be a response to this outrage. But what to do? I have seen in several quarters, doubtless fuelled by grief and anger, for savage retribution not just against the perpetrators of this act, but that the whole of the Palestinian people need to be collectively punished. On the other extreme there has been more of a focus against Israels responses to this outrage, as if the terrorist murderers should simply be allowed to get away with this heinous crime.
Neither is an appropriate response.
I will say that precisely because Judaism places such an important emphasis on ethics, peace and life that Israel should NOT collectively or brutally punish the Palestinian people as a whole. This is against Jewish law, ethics and morality, as well as being politically counter productive.I condemn the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, a Palestinian boy of 17 & at present it is being alleged that his death is a 'revenge' killing. If this is indeed a 'revenge' murder, then it needs to be doubly condemned, for killing one innocent individual for the sake of other individuals will not bring people back from the dead, neither does it bring justice to anyone & neither is such a concept found in Jewish theology, for the sins of one person cannot be taken on by another, especially an innocent individual. This murder if done by Jews, is a disgrace to Judaism and to Hashem. We are Jews, not savages. We follow the rule of Torah, not that of the jungle.
Likewise, we must also understand that Hamas, which controls Gaza with a totalitarian fist, is a terror organisation that will not stop until there are no Jews left in Israel. Their narrative of no compromise, no agreement with Israel, of denying Jews the right to a homeland, of explicitly advocating the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their historic homeland, of honoring terrorists and raising children to want to blow themselves up as long as they kill some Jews is one of the large stumbling blocs for peace between Israel and Palestine.
When I was in Israel a couple of weeks ago, I watched the sunrise over Jerusalem, an amazing sight, as beams of light gradually cascaded along the stones of the Kotel (the wailing wall), almost as if The Shekinah, was reminding me of her constant existence, but if Hamas were ever to win, my friends, my family would be gone, no more beautiful sunrises or sunsets for the Jewish people of Israel to see. A second Shoah. Israel was built to make sure that this and other atrocities against Jews would NEVER happen again. We cannot possibly negotiate peace with an organisation such as this; we Jews do want peace, indeed the preservation of life is a cardinal belief in Judaism as is the concept of peace- Shalom- not just the absence of conflict, but completed oneness, completeness if you will. But peace cannot come at any cost.
I do not know what the reaction of Israel will be in policy terms .Clearly the perpetrators - those who pulled the trigger- need to be punished and I understand that the authorities have already named the suspects. But as with any organisation, there are also the masterminds behind this atrocity. They too are accountable and they too must be punished. They are called the leadership of Hamas and they should be the target, not the people of Palestine. There are a range of options and a range of escalation points; air strikes against terror targets or the re-occupation of Gaza and overthrown of the Hamas terror enclave. All courses of action are not without risk or loss of life. But this is a war of Milchemet Mitzvah- which are defensive wars to protect the Jewish homeland & the people thereof. This is still applicable today and is the religious reason why the wars to defend the modern state of Israel are applicable via Halachah (Jewish law).
May we find a prayer for the leadership of Moses, the steadfastness of Deborah, the spiritual guidance of Samuel, the faithfulness of Hannah, the courage of Esther, the military prowess of David and the wisdom of Solomon. Above all, we as a people need to continue to follow Hashem and pray that he will swiftly deliver the children of Israel from harm.
May Hashem allow us to see the arrival of Mashiach [Messiah] and the end of all wars & universal peace in the near future.