Is the Israeli government doing enough? Many people with different points of view are asking this particular question.
All across the world, people are asking if the Israeli government is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties. Even many of our allies are asking if we are doing enough to protect non-enemy combatants and to allow sufficient humanitarian aid to Gazan civilians.
Many Israelis are asking if the Israeli government is doing enough to protect its soldiers who are going into battle. By taking extra precautions to minimize Gazan civilian casualties through pinpoint strategic strikes instead of simply leveling the battlefield, the Israeli government may expose its soldiers to additional risk.
Many Israelis are asking if the Israeli government is doing enough in its prolonged war against Hamas to eventually render Hamas non-functional both militarily and politically in Gaza.
Many Israeli hostage families are asking if the Israeli government is doing enough to release the hostages. After all, Israel should exert maximum efforts to ensure the safe return of all of its citizens in captivity. Are they indeed exerting maximum efforts? Are they making enough concessions to release the hostages? Why aren’t they withholding humanitarian aid to Gaza in an effort to pressure Hamas to release the hostages?
Many in Israel who see a hostage deal on the horizon are asking if the Israeli government is doing enough to ensure that they don’t release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands, especially those who will likely commit acts of terror again.
Many in Israel who see a hostage deal on the horizon are asking if the Israeli government is doing enough to ensure that they don’t agree to a ceasefire which would leave Hamas intact politically or militarily in Gaza.
Is the Israeli government doing enough? The answer is that we really don’t know because there is so much that is unknown. We don’t know all of the political and military calculations that the government is making in maximizing the likelihood of dismantling Hamas and returning its hostages while minimizing risk to its soldiers and to enemy civilians.
What we can do, though, in this state of unknown, is to use this war as an opportunity to ensure that these questions do not divide Israel as a society by working on the midah of being dan l’kaf zechut, of judging others favorably, of giving others the benefit of the doubt. We can express our opinion in each of these sensitive matters, but we do so with humility knowing that the war cabinet consisting of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant, Benny Gantz and two observers, Gadi Eizenkot and Ron Dermer, are individuals who collectively are experienced political and military leaders who deeply care about the state of Israel.
The Sefer Ha-Chinuch (mitzvah 235) explains that the main purpose of the mitzvah to judge favorably is to create a just and healthy society. If we constantly distrust each other, then we will not want to work together with those with whom we disagree. We have talked endlessly about unity in the wake of this war, but unity is an empty slogan unless it’s backed by behavior that reflects unity. Asking the question is the Israeli government doing enough but then giving our leaders in this national unity government the benefit of the doubt to try to find the proper balance in achieving the war objectives can help usher a new path forward for the State of Israel, a state that models the midah of being dan l’kaf zechut.