Bethlehem - Ma'an, January 5, 2009 - Israel's attempt to wipe out Hamas is understandable, but stupid.
No country in the world is going to ignore the provocation of rockets being launched from neighboring territory day after day. If Mexico had a group of anti-imperialists bombing Texas, imagine how long it would take for America to mobilize a counterattack. Israel has every right to respond.
But the kind of response matters.
Killing 500 Palestinians and wounding 2,500 others (at the time of writing) is disproportionate. And just as Hamas's indiscriminate bombing of population centers is a crime against humanity, so too is Israel's killing of civilians (at least 130 so far, not to mention the thousands in the years of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza).
Before Israel’s massive bombing, the Hamas bombings that began when the previous ceasefire ran out had not (thank God) killed anyone. The reason is obvious: Hamas has no airplanes, no tanks, nothing more than the weapons of the powerless—limited range mortars with limited accuracy.
Hamas can harass, but it cannot pose any threat to the existence of Israel....
It breaks my heart to see the terrible suffering in Gaza and in Israel. As a religious Jew I find it all the worse, because under the guise of serving God, both Jews and Arabs are actually acting out their accumulated pain in ways that will generate future suffering. And because it confirms to me how easy it is to pervert the loving message of Judaism into a message of hatred and domination.
This is why I remain in mourning for the Jewish people, for Israel and for the world.
Rabbi Michael Lerner is the Editor-in-Chief of Tikkun Magazine, a prominent Jewish critique of politics, culture and society in North America. Rabbi Lerner has published 11 books, most recently New York Times bestseller The Left Hand of God.