By Barbie Gorelick|
San Antonio Express-News commentary, April 6, 2002
The past week or so has been the most violent and frightening of recent memory. It is hard to know what to say about this incredibly tragic set back to the stone age.
Not only do I have friends and brethren in Israel but now I also have Palestinian friends and siblings of friends in Gaza and the West Bank. Regardless of what happens, people I know are dying and suffering. My heart is sick and broken.
I must say the recent series of suicide bombings that began on Eve of Passover and continued for five or six days were an outrageous and horrific atrocity. My family, along with Jews all over the United States were unable to enjoy or eat their festive meals after hearing of the bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya.
That bomber was a known terrorist that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat refused to arrest and hold in custody. These attacks came after Israel withdrew her tanks from the first "re-occupation." So merely removing the tanks did not stop these suicide attacks.
That said, what has occurred in the West Bank as a result of Arafat's inability or unwillingness to round up the bad eggs has been devastating and horrific as well. It is clear that the people in charge, Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, know of no other way to lead their people than by violence and more violence, whether it is called retaliation or defense or whatever.
These two men are leading two great peoples into acts and the use of tactics that both of their faiths prohibit. Both sides yet would argue that they are only acting in self-defense and that there is no moral equivalency to what they are doing because they are in the right. Based on what is occurring, this argument is ridiculous and offensive to people of true moral character.
Jews have always been at the forefront of peace and humanitarian movements. It has always been our way. For that reason, I must add that I am deeply disappointed and outraged in the reports coming out of New York City regarding the death threats lodged at the family of Adam Shapiro, an American Jew who is engaged to a Palestinian American and is in the West Bank trying to aid humanitarian efforts.
The Torah says clearly in Lev. 19:33-34, "When a stranger resides with you on your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens: you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God." You can also look up Ex.23:9. Adam Shapiro is following the Torah.
In Pirkei Avot we are also taught that, "The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed and justice denied." This conflict has become so out of hand that there is no way to backtrack who did what to whom first or which violent act is retaliatory or defensive and which is offensive. There is no military solution short of total genocide.
May God/Allah have mercy on the Jewish people and the Palestinian people for the pain and suffering they are causing each other. May God/Allah soften the hearts of the wicked and open up the eyes of the blind so that they can find the way out of this spiral of violence. May God/Allah lift up the souls of the righteous and give courage and strength to the bereaved. May God/Allah help us to find the tools that we need to make peace a reality upon the Earth.
San Antonian Barbie Gorelick is the founder of the Tri-Faith Dialogue.
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