Rabbi Drucker’s Letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican

Dear New Mexican:

I’m writing to the many people who have been writing letters to the editor condemning Israel’s position in the shocking and disappointing war. So many of us, both Palestinian and Israeli, until 18 months ago, thought that peace was coming. This letter is not a defense or rebuttal to those letters, but a plea for a little understanding and compassion for both sides.

Try to imagine 2/3rds of your family murdered, six million deaths remembered by the few that survived. Add to that, two millennia of being despised and persecuted. I’m not arguing that anything justifies cruelty and inhumanity. I’m only asking that you remember a little history when reading the newspaper. Humility would also be useful. Do any of us really know “the truth” of this war? I doubt it, but we’d have a better right to talk about it if we lived where it is taking place.

No one needs to become sympathetic to Israel and Jews, and for those who question my lumping them together, I might agree that one can be anti-Zionism has nothing to do with antisemitism if there hadn’t been a recent rash of destruction against several synagogues in Europe. It doesn’t matter to me what your religion is as long as you’re ashamed of it. That is, it’s easy for me to find flaws in another; my job is to find my flaws. I’ve criticized various Israeli leaders through the years, including the present Prime Minister, but it is one thing when Jews speak out current against Israeli policy–and many of us do–and another thing for Jews to read the harsh, sometimes vitriolic letters against Israel that I’ve read recently in this paper. This may not sound rational until you think about the difference between your complaining about your children or partner and someone doing it. Even if they don’t support the current government, most Jews support Israel. Remember Vietnam?

I’ve lived in Santa Fe for almost ten years and have always felt part of the community. The letters that I’ve mentioned take away that sense of belonging. I also don’t see their use. What makes most sense is not to offer an opinion about this complicated and painful conflict. I haven’t heard the Dalai Lama weigh in on the subject, so why do Santa Feans need to? Israelis and Palestinians are both underdogs locked in a war that makes them also victims of each other. Israel may look dominant with its tanks, but suicide bombers may prove to be more effective in destroying a society. Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian moderate who speaks for the Palestinian Authority, made this point in The New Yorker this week.

Forgiveness and loving-kindness go a long way towards removing fear and anger. Prayers for peace in the Middle East may be more useful than letters to the editor. Let no more parents grieve, no more children grieve, and let there be no more tragic waste of human lives. That’s my daily prayer and may it be so, speedily in our days.

Peace and Blessing,

Rabbi Malka Drucker