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David Seidenberg
Ecohasid meets Rambam

Genocide

Gaza is one small step away from a catastrophe like an epidemic that quickly wipes out people vulnerable from lack of food and water.
We are coming close to the point where it will take heroic efforts by Israel and other nations just to prevent a genocide. Israel needs to act now to stop this from happening. There is a growing protest against the way the war is being conducted within Israel itself, but could this be enough to change anything?
Already, Israel in its 3-month war with Gaza has killed far more civilians than Russia has killed over its entire 3-year war on Ukraine. But perhaps more shockingly, even 21,000 deaths does not count as genocide according to international law when it is the result of attacking legitimate military targets. But if people are dying from starvation, none of that stuff about legitimate targets matters.
Regardless of intentions, justified causes for war, and Hamas’s atrocities and instigation, if this happens, it will be genocide, and it will be on Israel’s hands. The same is true if Israel floods the Hamas tunnels with seawater and it ruins the aquifer under Gaza. Making Gaza uninhabitable is considered a war crime and would count as genocide.
The only reason for anyone like myself to point out this dread reality is the hope that they will be completely wrong because things turned out differently.
This is the week we read in the beginning of Exodus about an intentional plan of genocide in the Torah. I don’t think Israel intends or plans a genocide, fascist parties notwithstanding. But things have never looked this dire before. There’s not much more to say. Rachmana lits’lan!
About the Author
Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg is the creator of neohasid.org, author of Kabbalah and Ecology (Cambridge U. Press, 2015), and a scholar of Jewish thought. David is also the Shmita scholar-in-residence at Abundance Farm in Northampton MA. He teaches around the world and also leads astronomy programs. As a liturgist, David is well-known for pieces like the prayer for voting and an acclaimed English translation of Eikhah ("Laments"). David also teaches nigunim and is a composer of Jewish music and an avid dancer.
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