08 January 2017

Pray, Talk, Walk, and Work for Peace

Minna & Me at the Promenade 2004.  She will be there with classmates in February, for the 10th time.

Another senseless terror attack in Jerusalem.  Another nail in the coffin for the two-state solution. Another example of shameless acts of murder carried out by cowardly terrorists afraid to take the risks for peace.  Another example of a strengthening of the Right wing's territorial agenda.

What a bloody tragedy.

As a teacher, rabbi, activist and sometime Jerusalem resident, I have been to the Promenade countless times.  Too many to mention.  And I am like hundreds of such leaders who have used the Promenade to actually teach one aspect of the conflict, to encourage a judicious understanding of the delicate balance of Jerusalem's contended reality, to show, visually and in that place, how both settlement policy and terror often work hand in hand to thwart compromise and a two-state solution.

When I woke to the news of the attack this morning, I thought of hundreds of high school and college students and congregants with whom I have stood at the site of the killing.  I thought of my wife and children, and their deep joy at being witness to such a view of Jerusalem in all its glory.  And I thought of the soldiers who were standing there today, obligated, regardless of political views, to serve their country.  It's likely that one of the people killed was an advocate for justice for all peoples.

If you have been in Israel on a Sunday, you know it's the day that soldiers go back to their bases after going home for Shabbat.  And you know that many soldiers spend part of their Sunday on mandatory education trips, learning about their own nation they are sworn to protect, working in communities at risk, and yes, learning about the very complexity of this horrible, seemingly endless conflict.

I've seen firsthand those soldiers ask searching questions, arguing with their teachers and fellow soldiers about the nation's direction, and growing into men and women far faster than most do--if only for the responsibility they carry with them each day.

And if you have been in Israel on a Sunday and walked along the Promenade, you have seen Palestinian kids playing soccer; young families having a barbecue, Israelis and Palestinians of a reasoned and steady mien seeking to set an example for what co-existence may look like.  Those are "facts on the ground," too.

Through the tears and the cries and the condemnations and the recriminations remember this:  Peace will come only when the worst among us can be stopped and when senseless violence, which serves no purpose, is brought to a stop.

Man's particularly twisted habit of serving as his own worst enemy was on display in Jerusalem today.  A freedom fighter doesn't drive a truck into a crowd of innocent people.  And until Palestinian leadership gets that message straight and controls its population accordingly, the only thing they will be upholding is their side of a terrible bargain.

Pray, Talk, Walk and Work for the Peace of Jerusalem, not the shedding of its blood.  This is our only Hope.

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