After posting my last blog “Enough of blood and tears. Enough!” in which I cited the two stories about Moses hitting the rock and the differences between them, applying this to Israel’s situation and citing Yitzhak Rabin’s speech on the White House lawn in 1993, a Reform Rabbi wrote to me saying, in part, the following:
“How do we deal with a group like the one we confront? Reason has not worked for over 60 years. Limited responses have not worked for over 60 years. Attacks continue, our population is terrorized, and our children are at risk. It is easy to blame our own when they express their frustration, but it is pointless. They did not do the kidnappings and, did not fire the missiles. Whether any one of “our” group is responsible for the killing Mohammed Abu Khdeir is still under investigation, and I believe in the Israeli system of Justice.
If they don’t solve this crime, let us remember that it took weeks to find the bodies, and the Arabs still claim Hamas was uninvolved in spite of being on tape. The Israelis deserve the benefit of the doubt as well.
So [you are] being valiantly politically correct, and I agree logically with most of [your] conclusions, but it is not Jewish and human decency that are on trial, it is Arab barbarism and my feelings are more attuned to the protestors than to you.”
In response I wrote:
Let me be clear. I am not a pacifist. I never have been. Though the idea as suggested by the difference between the two incidents in which Moses hit the rock is that there is a better way to resolve conflict than violence, violent self-defense against the rodef [“the pursuer”] who strives to kill you is morally justified. I accept this, know it to be true and fully understand those who are so worn-thin by the rejectionists and terrorists on the Palestinian side that they have concluded that the only rational response is the use of force.
All that being said, what distinguishes Judaism is that tradition demands of us to strive higher for our own sake, for the sake of our moral character and the health of our souls.
Elie Wiesel once wrote that when any human being kills for whatever reason, he/she is simply a killer. A killer cannot escape him/herself after the fact.
I have never killed personally. And I pray that I never will be in a position where I have to kill. Israelis are placed in that horrible situation constantly, and those who do it for the most part do it only because they find themselves with no alternative. I understand it. I empathize with why they feel forced to do it, and I defend them for doing it. But it is they who must live with themselves for having done so.
After posting this last blog another colleague sent me a video clip of a brutal execution by Syrian Muslims of Syrian Christians in the middle of a Syrian town to emphasize the difference between them and us. The clip lasted about 40 seconds, and the hate, cruelty and complete lack of respect for the sacred quality of human life spilled out through hundreds of automatic rounds that poured into the bodies of those forced to their knees.
Of course, I agree. We Jews are not like them. We have to protect ourselves from them. Israel has no choice except to fight fire with fire if there is no alternative, and then Israel will have to arm itself always in such a way as to maintain military and strategic superiority as both a deterrent in peace and a necessity in war.
I cited Yitzhak Rabin’s speech on the White House lawn because he himself understood all this, and he knew there was no future for the state of Israel as a Jewish homeland and a democratic state if the killing did not stop. That does not suggest “valiant political correctness” as you have charged. It is rather a valiant defense of the Jewish heart, mind, soul, and body.