Note: These are my personal thoughts and are not necessarily reflective of any institution or organization.
We have just passed the end of the shloshim period, the 30 day period of intense mourning for the victims of the October 7 terror attacks in Israel. Shloshim often marks the end of the formal mourning period and the transition moment when we move on from a loss.
But, we can not move on from this horrendous loss. The heinous, unspeakably horrible attacks by Hamas terrorists must not be forgotten. We can not move on from the memory of that dark day because it reminds us of what this war against Hamas is about. It is about the survival of the State of Israel against an enemy which seeks its destruction.
And we also need to face the reality that many of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations are not calling for an end to the occupation, a cause which I, and many who love Israel would support. Rather, they are a call for an end to the Jewish State.
Those are the realities of the situation today and we must always keep them in mind. Those who are fighting to defend Israel from an enemy which seeks its destruction are standing up for all of us who care about the existence and safety of the State of Israel.
However, these realities should not preclude us from feeling heartbreak and pain of what we are seeing in Gaza, the pain and suffering of those who are truly innocent including the babies and young children. We can not look at the video and pictures from Gaza and not feel such pain and heartbreak for those who have been caught in this war because of decisions made by their leaders. We should be heartbroken and devastated by what we see.
The realities I mentioned above also do not remove from Israel the responsibility, rooted in our ethical tradition and Israel’s own stated values, to conduct this war as ethically as possible and in accordance with international law. This has always been stated as a point of pride for the IDF and it is critical that it continue to be so in practice.
The realities of this struggle should not lead Israel to oppose the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, with the provision that it is done in a way in which the aid reaches the people who really need it, not going to aid Hamas’ efforts at attacking Israel.
These realities do not in any way justify the attacks by settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank which have been taking place in recent weeks. We must condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms.
And, finally, none of these realities remove from Israel the responsibility, as stated in our tradition, to seek every possible way to achieve the release or freeing of the hostages who have been held in Gaza for more than a month. The taking of these captives was another example of the horrendous attack which still touches everyone in Israel and Jews throughout the world. The suffering of the hostages and their families is immeasurable. Redeeming captives is an absolute priority in our tradition and should be here. While we pray for and work for the safety and security of Israel and peace and safety for all in the region I will close with a prayer for their return of the hostages.
For all our family of the House of Israel who face anguish and captivity.
May God have compassion upon them and may they be brought from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, speedily and soon, Amen.