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My Take on Gaza

08/05/2014 09:15:02 AM


Rabbi George Gittleman

In recent days I’ve shared with you writings from my Israeli colleagues regarding the war in Gaza, all of them very moving. Now I offer my own sense of the conflict.

As tragic as it is, I believe that the war Israel is waging in Gaza is fundamentally just. Like any nation, Israel has the obligation to protect its citizens and the right to defend itself. The news is hard to watch (turn off your T.V.’s!) and the news reports are difficult to read—we are all affected by the scale of the human tragedy unfolding before us.

Adding fuel to the fire is the anti-Israel bias of the liberal press, which is quick to show or describe civilian casualties while leaving out the context that caused them: Hamas combatants using the civilian population as human shields. My heart goes out to the Palestinian people when their leaders use them as tools to wage war. When asked about a cease fire, one Hamas leader replied, “what’s 200 more martyrs if in the end the blockade is lifted?” Israel uses it’s military to protect its civilians while Hamas uses it’s civilians to shield it’s military!Our tradition holds that life is sacred: to destroy one life is to destroy a world. Based on its charter, Hamas takes a very different view. It openly vows to destroy not only Israel but Jews everywhere. This is not hyperbole; here is a link to the Hamas Charter, where it makes its intentions clear: Hamas Charter

Yet, in spite of the constant rain of rockets, all aimed at civilian population centers, Israel shows restraint, warning Palestinian civilians of impending danger, using measured force. Think about it. Israel has the firepower to annihilate Hamas yet holds back for fear of the cost in civilian lives. Hamas, on the other hand, seeks to maim and kill as many innocent people as possible. Were it not for the Iron Dome and the other measures Israel takes to protect its population, the civilian death toll would be much, much higher. Hamas tempers Israel’s ability to respond to their attacks by cynically using Israel’s respect for human life as a weapon against her. Imagine what would happen if Israel did the same, attempting to use her population as a human shield. It would be no deterrent at all but rather a shortcut to Hamas’s true objective!                                                                                                                  

You might say that I am uncharacteristically hawkish on this war, but when the dust settles, here are a few things to consider:
Controlling another population is corrupting to any society, including Israeli society, and as long as the Palestinians suffer there will be no peace and security for Israel. For better or for worse, Israel’s destiny is interwoven with the Palestinians destiny. What Martin Luther King, Jr., said regarding the civil rights movement is equally true in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “We must all learn to live together as brothers , or we will all perish together as fools.”

How do we get there? Greater minds than mine will have to guide us. I do know this: war is not the answer. Peace will not come through the barrel of a gun. We must find another way or, as Dr. King was fond of saying, “a way where there is no way.”

Tue, June 15 2021 5 Tammuz 5781