As the violence in Israel and Gaza continues to escalate and claims more victims, the pain I feel is palpable.
My heart aches for the IDF soldiers killed in action, and for the Israeli civilians who suffer an endless torrent of rockets fired at their homes and their children. My heart aches as well for the innocent civilians of Gaza who are killed or wounded, caught as they are in a deepening web of warfare. My guess is that many of you feel this same way. My guess is, too, that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians share the common wish that their children grow up to thrive in the sunshine, without fear of rocket and mortar fire. At the very least, I need to believe that.
And yet, I and so many others are falling into a malaise of hopelessness. In the words of Israeli author David Grossman, it is a malaise that submits that “anyone who still hopes, who still believes in the possibility of peace, is at best naïve or a deluded dreamer…”
Still, hope is not just a powerful necessity; it is our best – perhaps only – weapon. We who watch the unfolding of violence from a distance, no matter our politics, need to hang on to hope with every ounce of our strength. We need to nurture the hope that peace will come – that sooner or later politicians and military leaders will realize that peace is the only way. We must believe that peace will break forth seeded by vision, courage, and the will to create a new, affirmative reality in the Middle East.
If we are to hold-onto-for-dear-life this dream of peace, as I believe we must, we might begin with ourselves. Let us not just hope for peace, but become peace. We can learn to speak to each other authentically and kindly; we can act toward others, especially those difficult people in our lives, with kindness and concord. We can, as Jewish tradition instructs us, “seek peace and pursue it.”
And in the meantime, we can hope and pray for peace in Israel and Gaza, and all the places across the globe where mistrust, hate, and violence have taken root.
Let peace fill the earth as waters fill the sea.