Yehiel Grenimann
Masorti rabbi, author, human rights activist

An answer to my dilemma – morality and war

In my previous posting a few weeks ago I asked a question. How do we juggle the urgent necessity  for  a change of government in this country with the need to mobilize in response to the Hamas 7th October massacre and the ongoing war in Gaza and in the north? Is it legitimate to pursue political change in a time of war? Is it responsible to acquiesce in the continuing rule of a dysfunctional government that contributed to the demise of Israeli security on that fateful day this last Simchat Torah, a government  that  continues to disregard economic responsibility or the desperate need to  present a plan for the future here beyond the unleashed bloodshed?

I still remember my initial rage as the news came in after that horrendous day. It was not at Hamas.  I  was aware of their  genocidal agenda and brutal terrorization of their own population, but, like so many Israelis, I struggled to remember that the Palestinian population in Gaza, on the edge of a humanitarian disaster,  was part of our story, a powder keg of misery and hate ready to explode. Our government dealt with that reality ineptly, if not criminally,  for more than a decade, leaving them without any direction of hope and leading all of us into the illusion that some kind of peace was possible here without taking the Gazan reality into account, by bypassing Palestinians with a false “vision” of  so-called  “peace” with the other Arabs. We developed an amnesia to the existence of the Palestinian issue until it exploded in our faces on  that day.

My rage was at the warped priorities of the Netanyahu government whose blatant and poisonous moral-political corruption and hateful incitement against any critique or opposition to   their policies  led to their  tragic inability to respond adequately for the defence of the citizens of the country. There was a profound sense of  having been abandoned by those responsible. This government failed us. It was out-of-touch.

As the current war continues, the hostages are still in captivity, soldiers are dying and wounded daily, massive population dislocated, and  extreme suffering and a mounting toll of Palestinian lives, we hear of no end goal  for the day after. The present government continues on its myopic self-serving course without providing direction or hope, as if nothing has changed.

I believe we must follow the lead of our ancient prophets and speak out against the corruption and bloodshed, We must  begin organizing and working towards change. This country needs government with vision, a vision of future peace which is not possible without facing our complex reality and addressing the needs and rights of all in our tiny strip of land. We might be able to “defeat Hamas”, though I doubt that, but we will not be secure here or able to live and prosper here without that change, without responsibility in government and a vision for the future. We don’t have the time to wait any longer.

We, the Jews, will survive this, as we have so many tragedies through our long history and, with God’s help, find a way to be rid of the worst government the people of Israel have had since the days of  the destruction of the second temple. Without that radical change of direction, our present third sovereign state is endangered. This is  a government of “sinat hinam”, we need one  that is inspired by ahavat habriot.

Netanyahu’s  present government, fuelled by messianic insanity and blind ethnocentric nationalism disguised as patriotism,  is continuously edging closer to realizing in practice ideas  that  are nothing less than major crimes against humanity, such as the idea of population transfer, the horrendous thought of  even more massive civilian deaths in Gaza, the spectre of large-scale starvation, the lunatic thought of use of nuclear weapons, as well as the quiet insidious repression of protest and freedom within the country.

It would be morally irresponsible not to act now to resist these tendencies and to mobilize, not only  to meet the challenge of Hamas barbarism (as so many citizens did in October) but also to  bring an end to the Netanyahu government’s irresponsible and  repressive rule  before it is too late.

Perhaps one could say that we must fight Hamas as if there is no government, and rid ourselves of this government as if there is no Hamas.

Author’s artwork – a child in war
About the Author
Now retired, I am a member of the executive boards of Rabbis For Human Rights and Tag Meir and an active congregant of Kehillat Yedidya in Jerusalem. In recent years I have authored two novels: Far Away From Where? and The Partisan's Coat (Mazo Publishers), both of which deal with the issues I would like to address in a blog. Before retiring I worked for 12 years for RHR in the OPT, was the congregational rabbi of three Masorti kehilot (Shira Hadasha, Arad, Eshel Avraham Beersheba and Havurat Tel Aviv), the coordinator of Masorti conversion education I also taught at the Masuah Holocaust memorial centre, served as director of the Ot VeEd institute for Holocaust education and as a high school teacher in Jewish history and civics for ten years.
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