A Lamentation for Gaza and Israel
I posted this over on my Facebook page:
A lamentation for Gaza from Rabbi Brant Rosen: http://rabbibrant.com/2014/08/01/for-tisha-bav-a-lamentation-for-gaza/
In the comments, my Jewish friend Mark Braverman (jewishconscience) responds with this excerpt from his powerful book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Fatal Embrace:
In response I also want to share a passage from my book, Fatal Embrace. This recounts my Tisha B’av of 8 years ago, the summer I went to the West Bank.
“My last night in Palestine that summer fell on the ninth of Av, a Jewish day of fasting and mourning, the traditional date of the destruction of the Temple of Solomon and the beginning of the exile of the Jews two thousand years ago. The book of Lamentations, a source text for our liturgy of mourning, attributed by tradition to the prophet Jeremiah, is chanted that night. It is a harrowing description of a people fallen and traumatized.
Jerusalem has greatly sinned
Therefore has she been made a mockery. All who admired her despise her
For they have seen her disgraced.
Panic and pitfall are our lot,
Death and destruction.
My eyes shed streams of water
Over the brokenness of my poor people. (Lam. 1:8, 4:46–48; author’s translation)
On that night, I sat on a hill overlooking the Old City, in the company of congregations of praying Jews, mostly American émigrés worshiping, I felt, at the shrine of their Jerusalem—a Jerusalem “reclaimed” at the expense of the Palestinian people; a Jerusalem that for Palestinians is also a spiritual and political center; a Jerusalem that is being taken from them street by street, farm by farm, village by village. I stood on that hill and chanted the words as I had every year on this day, descriptions of starvation, rape, slaughter, destruction of homes, and banishment from the land, and, for the life of me, I could apply the words only to the Palestinians. In these words, I now felt their suffering. And my eyes shed streams of water for them, my Palestinian brothers and sisters, and yes, for the brokenness of my own people.”
Hamakom y’nachem otanu b’toch sh’ar avlei Zion v’Yerushalim.
In contrast to these empathetic and humane Jewish voices of lamentation, there other voices calling for something very close to genocide, mirroring the horrible extremist rhetoric of their opponents in Hamas. See this …
Words from my 2012 release come to mind: "We are increasingly faced with a choice, I believe, not between kindness and hostility, but between kindness and nonexistence" (Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? p. 12). Those words might be paraphrased as follows: Human hostilities tend to accelerate and intensify until we are faced with the ultimate choice between reconciliation and genocide.
Or this: Human hostilities tend to accelerate and intensify until we must choose between reconciliation and mutually-assured destruction, which is a form of mutual self-destruction, or joint suicide. The words "Choose life" take on new meaning.