Lamentation at Gaza

Image: Beit Hanoun, Gaza, 2015: Children walking among the rubble.  (badwanart, pixabay)

Whose bright idea was it to schedule the ceremonies marking the arrival of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on the day before Nakba Day?

And did it not occur to that someone that the juxtaposition would provoke a strong reaction from the residents of Gaza?

Or perhaps was it utterly obvious that this alignment would provoke a violent reaction, and they scheduled it thus on purpose, to maximize the insult?

The old men have done what old men do: they have set up the young people of Palestine and the young people of Israel to fight and kill one another. Shame on the Palestinian leadership, both the PA and Hamas. Shame on Trump. Shame on Netanyahu. Shame on the Arab governments that chose to let this situation fester for 70 years while they booted hundreds of thousands of Jews out of their lands with nowhere to go but Israel. Shame on the British and the Ottoman sultans before them who manipulated both populations for their own purposes.

The only thing simple about this whole mess is that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are welcome anywhere else.

Dreaming that the Other will simply disappear or go away is a foolish, destructive dream. Dreaming as some outsiders have dreamed that simply breaking down all barriers will bring peace is a foolish and destructive dream. Dreaming of genocide or apartheid on either side is a criminal dream.

The religious voices at the dedication of the embassy were fundamentalist Christians, both on record for anti-Semitic statements that they have yet to retract, plus a member of a Jewish sect which describes itself as “anti-Zionist.”  There was not a rabbi from a mainstream liberal movement in sight – neither Modern Orthodox, Masorti, nor Reform, even though all three movements maintain a presence in Jerusalem and are Zionist. I am angry about that, but I am heartbroken over the violence and loss of life.

I am a Jew down to the core of my soul. My heart is with Israel, but my heart is broken.

The prophet Zachariah gave us a warning long ago:

 וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי, לֵאמֹר, זֶה דְּבַר-יְהוָה, אֶל-זְרֻבָּבֶל לֵאמֹר:  לֹא בְחַיִל, וְלֹא בְכֹחַ–כִּי אִם-בְּרוּחִי, אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת.

Then he answered and spoke to me, saying: “This is the word of the Eternal to Zerubbabel, saying: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit,’ says the God of hosts.”  – Zechariah 4:6

The first century taught us that sometimes it is worse than useless to fight.

The 20th century taught us that sometimes we have to fight if we are going to survive.

I weep for my people because our friends are not our friends and our enemies are surrounded by enemies too.

I do not have answers.


*As Yair Rosenberg points out in his excellent article 13 Inconvenient Truths about what has been Happening in Gaza, the Palestinian demonstrations have been going on since March under the name, “The Great March of Return.” They are much more than a protest against moving the embassy. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the timing seems geared for maximum emotion. As Rosenberg writes: “The Monday demonstration was scheduled months ago to coincide with Nakba Day, an annual occasion of protest; it was later moved up 24 hours to grab some of the media attention devoted to the embassy.” 




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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

16 thoughts on “Lamentation at Gaza”

  1. Their reaction would have simply been doubled if the ceremony was on another day, once for their fake catastrophe day and another for the day for our joy.

    1. Andrea, while you may be right, talking about “fake” things does not help anyone. The parents and grandparents of those people left their homes for what they were assured would be a short time. They were given nowhere to go. I do not have any patience with the “there is no such thing as a Palestinian” rhetoric. It’s propaganda from the right, just as “Jews are European colonialists” is propaganda from the left. The situation is tragic, but wishing it were simpler won’t make it so.

      1. Your reflect much of how I feel about the awfull situation, but I take issue with “left” “right” generalizing. Lets stick to the facts without these labels, I believe that is much more productive and likely to get more understanding and support across the political spectrum.

  2. Thank you, Rabbi. It’s very difficult to have things inside of me, as you so eloquently stated, without countering a snotty anti-Zionist post or an equally galling anti-Palestinian post. I continue to pay attention, but no answers, and this all sucks.

  3. I support Israel too. I always have.
    IMHO: This is why no one moved the embassy to Jerusalem BEFORE now. Previous POTUS’ KNEW it would causes massive chaos, upset, death, etc. etc. Only Donald Trump would do something so incredibly irresponsible (and he’s doing it because it takes our “gaze” away from him and his scandals).
    All we can do is hope and pray this calms down but with a POTUS who enjoys throwing gas on an open fire? I don’t know if that will happen any time soon. 🙁
    Just my opinion.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I can remember hoping for the day when a just arrangement for Jerusalem would be part of a real peace accord. This is not that.

  4. Thank you, Rabbi, for eloquently expressing that which I could not. I am a Jew-in-training (if that makes sense) and my awe and wonder at Israel is not diminished by this. I pray for peace in Israel every day. Yours, aye.

  5. I think it has to have been deliberate. Keep in mind that many of those who have Trump’s ear are evangelical Christians who support Israel and encourage a hawkish approach to all its neighbors precisely because they hope that the Middle East will, in fact, explode and bring about the End Times. He’s not sophisticated or knowledgeable enough to be aware of that, but his advisers certainly are.

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