Another day, another set of atrocities. And trust me, I’m not being flippant about this. The rationale– or kaleidoscope of colliding rationales– behind this continuing massacre escapes me at the moment. What does the Israeli government think is going to come of this? How can a nation of people barely one lifetime removed from the horrors of the European Holocaust turn around and visit such needless, vicious death, suffering, and destruction upon so many vulnerable innocents? With each child butchered, with each ambulance attacked and each hospital shelled the rationale of self-defense rings more shrill and hollow.

There are so many voices crying out against this– notably many Jewish and Israeli voices– that it is difficult to fathom why the powers behind this continuing travesty show no sign of relenting. Whatever the reasons, they must know at some level that this is the very antithesis of the righteousness that lies at the core of Judaism. Do they honestly see a future for a Jewish state that was expanded upon such needless suffering and bloodshed?

What people of conscience who now stand with the Likudniks, right-wing Zionists, and other pro-Israeli extremists must understand is that so much of the burning criticism directed at Israel right now is born not of a hatred for Judaism or Jews, or even for Zionism. Much of this criticism is born of a profound and desperate sense of disappointment that such depths of depravity are being plumbed by a nation from whom so much better is expected.

Someone, or some collection of someones, close to the levers of Israeli power must come to the realization that the only way to obtain lasting peace and security for Israel is to recognize and cultivate Israel’s own decency and righteousness, then recognize and appeal to the same in its enemies.

If this sounds too utopian and sunny for you, don’t be misled. I’m not suggesting that Israel drop its guard and throw its doors wide open for those who would harm its citizens. But Israel must understand that with decisive power comes tremendous responsibility, and that decisive power alone cannot guarantee security (or even survival). Judaism’s own ancient mythology contains an example of the latter dynamic that is so effective that it survived as one of the more well-known stories of Christian and Western culture.

In other words, the way to Israel’s peace and security does not pass through the ashes of Gaza’s homes and hospitals and the corpses of its women and children. It makes me wonder what kind of peace and security Israel’s leaders are really aiming for.

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