Meeting over a Grave

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In the Torah portion of last week, Hayyei Sarah, there is an extraordinary reunion and reconciliation. Isaac, father of the Jewish people, and Ishmael, father of the Arab peoples, meet to jointly bury their common father, Abraham. What is extraordinary is that every possible circumstance had conspired to drive these two half-brothers apart.

Even the ancient rabbinic commentators note the extraordinary moment of reconciliation. (see Talmud Bavli Bava Batra 16b). Further, there is every indication that this reconciliation is permanent, as Isaac settles in an area connected with Ishmael (see Gen 25:11).

After withdrawing from Gaza and leaving the Palestinians to direct their own destiny, the Israelis have endured over 12,000 rocket attacks targeting almost 1 million people living in Israel. These rockets, often supplied by Iran, are fired at civilian population areas deliberately. Israelis have been killed and maimed, but the world, preoccupied with other matters, perhaps, paid little attention except to routinely condemn Israel. I personally have paid a shiva call to a family in Sderot that lost their teen-age daughter in one such attack.

Finally, provoked beyond any reasonable limit, the Israelis have responded with an attack on Hamas and their ability to make war. No violence is good, but the right of self defense is inviolate and absolute. Israel must defend herself.

Perhaps one day, the children and Ishmael and the children of Isaac will, like long past, meet and reconcile. It will be a meeting, like in the Torah, over a grave-but it will be a meeting nonetheless. The Palestinian people will need to love their children more than they hate ours. I pray for that day to come. But, to quote our eloquent URJ president Rabbi Rick Jacobs, that day, sadly, is not today.


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