What to do

The war in Israel and Gaza is horrific. Here in this country, there is disagreement about what to do. People are staking out positions; to even name the positions is to take a position, because of the way you describe the different positions. I’m not particularly adept at politics, and I feel the proverbial deer in the proverbial headlights: no matter which way I go, it looks bad. Thus I was relieved to read this on The Velveteen Rabbi’s blog:

“One recent day on social media, comments from two people I respect crossed my transom within about an hour. One said (I’m paraphrasing both) that any rabbi who doesn’t call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza is morally bankrupt. The other said that any rabbi who would call for a ceasefire, given Hamas’ stated goals of destroying Israel, is betraying the Jewish people. I’ve been sitting with that tension, and it feels like a black hole inside my heart. How am I supposed to know which path is most likely to lead to a future of peace and justice and coexistence in that beloved land? How would I know whether more military response or a ceasefire is likelier to bring about the just peace both peoples need? I can’t possibly know….”

Like the Velveteen Rabbi, I never studied political science, international relations, or military strategy. Yet she knows more than I — at least she’s been to Israel, and clearly has a better sense of the issues than I do. I’m glad that someone else is willing to say, “I can’t possibly know.”

All I know for sure is that the war in Israel and Gaza is really deadly (on the order of 10,000 fatalities so far, depending on which source you’re willing to trust). And this war is happening at the same time as the really deadly war in Ukraine (around 32,000 fatalities in the last 12 months). Then there are the really deadly wars that don’t get talked about much in the U.S. — Sudan, Myanmar, the Mahgreb insurgency — each of which has seen about 12,000 fatalities so far this year.

I don’t know what the path to peace is for any of these major ongoing wars. I’m not one of those religious leaders who will tell you with great self-assurance what we should do. I can’t possibly know….