The Rose

A center piece in my office is a metal sculpture of a petaled rose which makes both an impression, and a statement. This rose is a sculpture which was made of the shrapnel from Hamas rockets that were rained on Sderot. The pieces from the rockets which fell were not soldered back together and made into return fire. They were, instead, made into a much different symbol, a symbol of the passion for peace.

That rose is important to me. It reminds me that intentions are more important than actions.

One of the most blatant examples of this is the difference between the vigils being held in support of Israel and the protests/demonstrations being organized against her. For the most part, the vigils in support of Israel are filled with prayer and reflection. The organizers understand that the diameter of bullet, or a knife, or a decapitation, even the distance from an innocent hostage, is much larger than the centimeters that might be captured in a picture. We find ourselves consumed by the holes and the missing pieces. The vigils are intended to provide those who are mourning with a place to find comfort and strength and hope in the future. The demonstrations organized against Israel sound more like rallies for violence against not just Israel, but the entire Jewish people. And one need not look very far to see how those voices have encouraged an exponential increase of anti-Semitism throughout any number of communities.

Another example is found in the “rules of war” that seem to be playing out. In response to an indescribable and unfathomable atrocity against Israel on October 7, Israel has strategically organized its response to defend its very existence. I hear the word “proportionality” very often. Would the world have Israel lob thousands of rockets into Gaza at civilian targets as Hamas is doing to Israel? Would the world have the Israeli army march into Gaza behind a sea of women and children, human shields, as part of its defensive strategy? To say that there are ethics in war sounds very strange to me. Yet, as Israel is forced to do what it must do, in response to what Hamas wants to do, it is trying its best. And what is it that “the sides” are trying to do? Hamas is trying to eradicate not just Israel but the Jewish people (read their charter). Israel is trying to survive as a free people in the land that is its own.

A last example is found in what some of us are reading between the lines of the news coming out of legitimate sources. Yes, Israel has limited the amount of supplies that can be imported into Gaza out of fear (based on history) of what they will be used for. Yet, there are reports of UN storehouses filled with food and a treasure trove of supplies being hoarded by Hamas. The humanitarian crisis, as it is being called, is more the (if not THE) fault of Hamas and the UN. Egypt is reluctant to open its border because it does not want to deflate what it and others have created as the “Palestinian Cause.” I would suggest that even a cursory investigation into the assets which have been invested in Gaza which were meant for its citizens would show how they ended up being used by Hamas for its terror tactics (Where did all the cement and other material for their murder tunnels come from?). The people of Gaza have been held in a siege of sorts by the hands of Hamas (the UN which collaborates with them, as well as the Arab world as a whole) for all too long. If Israel has any intention of its own beyond its survival it is the freeing of the people of Gaza as well.

And so, my rose. I have always been careful to leave room in my narrative for the inclusion of an Arab voice that would seek peace. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear one. My rose teaches me to be hopeful, but it also reminds me that intentions are as important as  (if not more than!)  the acts that they inspire.

About the Author
Robert Eisen is a graduate of Syracuse University and Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion. A member of the Rabbinical Assembly, he served congregations in Rochester, New York; Raleigh, North Carolina; Buffalo, New York; and, most recently (from 1999 - 2020) Congregation Anshei Israel in Tucson, Arizona. He is now living in Phoenix, Arizona, spending as much time as he can with his grandchildren.
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