I write this with great sorrow for civilians hurt on both sides. Sorrow for our soldiers who have fallen in this operation, and sorrow for the future of my country and the entire region. I know that as I write, soldiers like me have fired shells into Gaza. They had no way of knowing who or what they would hit. Faced with so many innocent casualties, it is time for us to state very clearly: this use of artillery fire is a deadly game of Russian roulette. The statistics, on which such firepower relies, mean that in densely populated areas such as Gaza, civilians will inevitably be hit as well. The IDF knows this, and as long as it continues to use such weaponry, it will be hard to believe when it claims to be minimizing civilian deaths. As a former soldier and an Israeli citizen, I feel compelled to ask today: have we not crossed a line?
It's hard to shake away the utterly depressing feeling that comes with news coverage these days. IDF and Hamas are at it again, a vicious cycle of violence, but this time it feels much more intense. While war rages on the ground in Gaza and across Israeli skies, there's an all-out information war unraveling in social networked spaces.
Ironically, there is another transatlantic transport with the name 'St. Louis' whose story is one of the nadirs of America's storied past. Though little known, perhaps no other moment since the Emancipation Proclamation might well have burdened America's conscience as much.
Beyond any legal analysis and moral speeches, the reality is that what is taking place right now is a massacre.
Contrary to what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes, the main existential threat facing the country is not a nuclear-armed Iran. The real peril is to be found at home: the corrosive effect of the Palestinian problem on Israel's international standing. The devastation caused by Israel's periodic asymmetrical confrontations, combined with the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and the ever-growing expansion of settlements, has fueled a growing campaign to undermine Israel's legitimacy.
At 11:50 on Monday morning a scrum of passengers jockeying to board United Airlines Flight 85 from Tel Aviv to Newark fell silent when a warning echoed in Hebrew and Arabic through Ben Gurion Airport.
A long, caged walkway leading from the last Hamas checkpoint to the Israeli border compound gives the feeling that you're entering a maximum security prison. As I was walking, wearing a flak jacket and carrying all my gear, I could hear the booms of Israeli strikes, fired from close by, and the sounds of outgoing Hamas rockets aimed at where I was heading.
Headless bodies. Screaming children. Entire neighborhoods fleeing on foot. The unmistakable sounds of Hamas rockets and the booms of Israeli strikes. Here's a look at what I've witnessed this week in Gaza.
"It's that place where all the rockets are falling," I would tell my friends about the embattled southern Israeli town near Gaza.
This process is rooted in the dark underside of the best teaching of Torah, "Love the stranger, the pariah, for you were strangers, pariahs, in the Land of Egypt." This is repeated 36 times in the Torah. Why? Because to repeat the command so often means it is being rejected, disobeyed.
Nobody who signed the document did so lightly. It is always difficult for spiritual leaders to take controversial decisions, and it has been especially difficult for American Jewish leaders to openly dissent from the government of Israel.
I'd like to believe that prayers are like pixie dust. But they won't get me to win the PowerBall; they won't prevent me from getting sick; they won't always save my children, my neighbors, my friends. So what's the point?
President Obama needs to start spending some of the political capital he earned through his election victory to help restart the peace process, which has stalled since Mr. Netanyahu took office four years ago.
As rabbis, we must hold both Israelis and Gazans to a basic principle in international law and in the Jewish tradition: We have a right and responsibility to defend ourselves, but must not kill civilians in the name of self defense.
For Israel, a dual message of the right to defend ourselves, with deep and profound ethical sensibilities, is what this past conflict was about.
Both "brothers," Palestine and Israel, today need to make the choice that begins with the new cease-fire, but must lead from there to a long-term truce; the truce must give time for compassion to flower where there was fear and rage.