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With AND To

We are grateful that we are able to look in the rear view at the recent exchange of violence between Israel and Gaza – let us be thankful that both sides were able to agree to at least a temporary cessation of hostilities. We still feel emboldened by the way the Jewish community stood together during this crisis. Across emails, facebook pages, twitter feeds, synagogue and organization websites and within the walls of these organizations we saw, heard and responded to the call to ‘Stand Up’ WITH Israel … exactly as we should have done so.

As people in Jewish households who have deep connections to this sacred place, our connections to Israel call upon us to ‘Stand Up’ WITH Israel as its inhabitants face constant and threatening rocket fire from Gaza … to ‘Stand Up’ WITH Israel as it faces the challenge of needing to work with those who challenges Israel’s very legitimacy … to ‘Stand Up’ with Israel as the country’s leadership struggles to make the difficult decisions between policy and politics; diplomacy and combat, life and death.

And yet, because we so deeply value Israel for all that which it stands … not only must we ‘Stand Up’ WITH Israel, we must endeavor to – chastened by the highest values of our Jewish tradition – ‘Stand Up’ TO Israel. The latest exchange of violence did not occur in a vacuum. There is a deteriorating political and social context to which Israel holds its share of accountability.

As people in Jewish households who hold deep connections with this sacred place our connections to Israel call upon us to ‘Stand Up’ TO Israel and speak frankly and honestly about social and moral repercussions of the continued placement and expansion of the Separation Barrier … to ‘Stand Up’ TO Israel and speak frankly and honestly about the continued development of Settlements in spite of the way that development impedes on future possibilities for reconciliation and peace … to ‘Stand Up’ TO Israel and lovingly remind our Jewish sisters and brothers about the vision of acting as sovereign power in a fashion that promotes and supports justice and freedom for ALL of its inhabitants.

As I struggle with the most effective way to walk this balance between standing up WITH and TO, I am deeply grateful for the perspective and wisdom of my friend, Dalia Landau. Dalia is one of the protagonists in The Lemon Tree and the heart and soul of Open House – a peace education center – in Ramle, Israel. Dalia lives and embodies this struggle of standing up WITH and TO with sincerity and grace. In the aftermath of the recent exchange of hostilities, she wrote to me:

“I am sure that you are as relieved for the cease fire as I am. It is tenuous. Most of the reserve soldiers have not yet been sent home. Please continue praying for all of us. Once again the saddest thing is the mutual projections of evil on each other, the competition over how much destruction we have caused each other. Well, nothing new. This is what war is about is it not? Today, there is no such thing as settling a conflict in the battlefield, is there? The whole country is the field … At such times our work at Open House becomes so much more challenging. Suspicion grows, feelings are on edge. At such times, it becomes very difficult to bear disagreement or another point of view. Minority voices are hardly tolerated … How are we ever to be able to create confidence building measures without people getting to know each other? This is the question that bugs me continuously … Now a whole generation is growing in the West Bank and Gaza that has not met Israelis except as soldiers or bomber planes flying over their heads.”

The cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza is just the beginning – or more accurately the continuation – of the real work that must be done by all of us who claim connection to this sacred place. We need to speak the truth – the truth of our love and support for Israel and its people; the truth of our grave concern for the perpetually worsening situation between Israel and Palestinians; the truth about the cost to the collective Jewish soul that continues to escalate.

So, read and learn more and what intelligent people from all perspectives have to say; talk and listen respectfully and honestly with those whose views you share and with those whose views are different from your own and support those organizations like Open House – that lovingly and tirelessly work hard to stand up WITH and TO this place we value so deeply.

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