Image: Two Kasam rockets fired from Gaza towards the town of Sderot, Israel on 3/27/09. (tipinfo via flickr, some rights reserved.)
I got the news very late last night from my friend Elana, in Israel:
You go to bed one night and wake up the next morning and there is a war happening around you. Again. What was that proverb about trying to solve the same problem with the same solution and expecting a different result? We need other options. #LifeinIsrael– via Twitter
Shots are going back and forth between Gaza and Israel again. It seems to have been set off by the IDF’s assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata, a military commander in the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He claimed to have been responsible for missile attacks over the past two years on the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashdod and to be planning more such attacks.
If you would like to know more about him, the Times of Israel has a piece that has a lot of detail. I find that it is helpful to me, in keeping some perspective on all sides of the situation there, to learn as much as I can about individuals. Everyone tends to talk about Israel and Palestine in sweeping terms, and we forget that there are individual human beings on both sides. Some, like al-Ata, like many Israeli right-wingers, appear to have chosen the path of violence because they believe it to be the only path. When I read their individual stories, I understand why. Others don’t get to choose: like al-Ata’s wife, Asma, like the Israeli children of Sderot, they are there when the bomb lands and if they are not protected, they will die.
I have no answers to any of this. I am impaled upon the great irony, that if we are to believe our scriptures (both sides!) Jews and Muslims are members of the same family. If we live up to the highest values in our scriptures, on both sides, we could live side by side in harmony, but instead we have been the pawns of other powers, powers who use our conflict for their own ends. At this point, with so much blood shed and old grudges on both sides, I do not know how it can be sorted out.
It is also true that these two peoples have nowhere else to go. The Arab nations have been very clear that they do not want the Palestinians. Europe and the rest of the West have been very clear: they don’t want a bunch of Jews. This is the flip side of the great irony: Palestinians and Israelis neither one have any other home.
All I know for sure is that as a Jew, the only fear I am permitted is yirat Hashem, the fear of God. I am commanded to love those who are different from myself. I will keep trying to find a way.