As Rabbi Charley Baginsky said at the vigil earlier this week outside Downing Street, there are no right words. Our family and friends in Israel are reeling from a heinous terrorist attack and the highest number of Jewish people murdered in one day since the Shoah. October 7th, 2023, Shemini Atzeret 5784 will forever be etched in our hearts as another tragedy that befell the Jewish people.
As we imagine many readers were, we frantically messaged those close to us over the weekend, hoping to hear they were safe. Our fear for their safety continues as they shelter from rockets and report for reserve duty.
As well as friends and family, we have been hearing from colleagues who have lost loved ones, have family members missing, and in the case of Vivian Silver, a dear colleague of all us in the peace and human rights camp in Israel, been kidnapped from her home in Kibbutz Be’eri. Vivian is a leader of Women Wage Peace and someone who volunteers to collect Palestinians from Gaza to transport them for medical assistance within Israel.
As well as friends and family, we have been hearing from colleagues who have lost loved ones, have family members missing, and in the case of Vivian Silver, a dear colleague of all us in the peace and human rights camp in Israel, been kidnapped
It has been disgusting to see some who purport to be progressive or pro-Palestinian not only lack compassion but, in some cases, celebrate these evil atrocities on the basis they are somehow justifiable because Palestinians are fighting for freedom. They should heed the words of Uri Weltmann, one of the leaders of our partner, the jointly Jewish and Palestinian led Standing Together:
“We need to say as clearly as possible: Hamas is responsible for slaughtering women, children, men and elderly. War crimes – like abducting or murdering citizens – do not constitute a just struggle for freedom. We cannot stomach such heinous crimes, nor can we justify them.”
It has been disgusting to see some who purport to be progressive or pro-Palestinian not only lack compassion but, in some cases, celebrate this evil
And, in this incredibly difficult and highly painful time, we must also try to hold conflicting and painful emotions. We can combine deep concern and strong support for Israel with humanity and compassion for the ordinary people of Gaza who are suffering death and devastation.
We must also not lose sight of the vision that so many of us believe in and know to be true, which is that no-one will be safe and secure without freedom and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Yitzak Rabin, Israel’s solider turned peace-maker, who paid with his life for his pursuit of peace, laid out a clear message that we today must heed: “We must fight terrorism as if there’s no peace process, and work to achieve peace as if there’s no terror.”
We must support Israelis as they face their darkest days in 50 years. We can do so by supporting communities in Israel devastated by Hamas terrorism, countering extremists seeking bloodshed between Arab and Jewish communities, and continuing to work for a safe, equal and just future for Israelis and Palestinians.
Perhaps the most poignant perspective we can share with you is from Yaakov Argamani, the father of Noa Argamani who is currently being held hostage by Hamas: “Let us make peace with our neighbours, in any way possible. I want there to be peace; I want my daughter to come back. Enough with the wars. They too have casualties, they too have captives, and they have mothers who weep. We are two peoples to one Father. Let us make real peace.”
If this distraught father can have compassion for Israelis and Palestinians, and a belief that a different future is still possible, we too must try to find that compassion and muster the strength to remain committed to a vision of safe and just future for both peoples.
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