War On Four Planes
Body - Palestinian bodies are maimed and slaughtered. No Israelis have yet been wounded. This is an unjust war; all the weapons lie with one side. But Israeli bodies know bloodshed too. They’ve been stabbed and blown to pieces on busses, maimed by tractors.
Heart - There is suffering for all people. Mothers and fathers who have lost children, brothers, sisters. There is anger all around, and fear. There is love all around too, but it can be just as senseless.
Mind - Politicians scheme stories to justify injustice. Histories, theologies, worldviews concocted into bizarre equations that somehow compute answers that condone violence, destruction and oppression.
Soul - There is no war. The material that composes the universe does not know the meaning of the distinctions that comprise our world, Jew, Arab, Palestinian, Israeli. This is the place from where our kinship is traced.
I am sad and angry after a day of death in Palestine. I imagine my attention to the situation in Israel and the plight of the Palestinian people has not gone unnoticed in this community. Though I hold a great love for Israel, I am convinced that it is our responsibility as practitioners of Judaism to uphold the principles of our faith in all arenas, regardless of political sensitivity. Our tradition holds that all human beings are created in the divine image, that we should welcome the stranger among us, aspire to love our neighbors as brothers and sisters. All of those values were violated today, on a day meant for celebration.
I hope to speak with great clarity, in simple statements of fact. I think it is of vital interest that our community be a home for conversation, and pioneers of a new kind of speech concerning the relationship of Judaism and Israel. We will insist that basic rights and freedoms be granted to all people regardless of ethnicity or faith. Until this is achieved whatever freedom we have is marred.
We begin this practice by refusing outright to make this into an issue of sides. There are certain principles required of decent human beings fashioning a just society. Surely the wisdom values named above are all foundational. We’ll continue to explore the intersection of spirit and wisdom with politics as we stand witness to the events in Palestine and Israel in the years to come.
I am praying, on the subway, deep in the belly of the earth, from the bridge above the water, for the safety and wholeness of all people, that the scales be tipped to compassion in those who believe humanity can be divided into camps. I hope you are with me.
Rabbi Zach Fredman
PS - I’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts