Was Noah Complicit — Are We?

As Jews, we are taught to emulate Abraham, not Noah.
Khan Al Akhmar in Threatening Shadow of Kfar Adumim
Khan Al Akhmar in Threatening Shadow of Kfar Adumim

In this week’s Torah portion, God promises Noah that God will never again destroy the entire world. (Genesis 8:21-22) Many have commented before me that God never promises that we won’t destroy our world, or parts of it.

We have good reason to believe that the demolition of Khan Al Akhmar will begin on Tuesday. Harassed into leaving Israel in 1953, and again displaced when Israel build the Kfar Adumim settlement, their homes have been deemed “illegal” because of laws imposed on them by a Knesset they can’t vote for and a planning committee they aren’t represented on.

We will destroy their homes, and destroy one more shred of our morality.

The rabbis are intrigued by the fact that Noah is deemed a tzadik (A righteous person), and debate the relative merits of Noah and Abraham. Noah, who never questions the flood and obediently builds an ark, is compared to the young child who walks hand in hand with a parent. Abraham, who rebukes and argues with God, is compared to the older child who can let go of the parent’s hand, and walk ahead.

We are told in Midrash Tanhuma on this weeks portion that Noah’s drunkenness after emerging from the ark and seeing the terrible destruction. He cries, and asks God how God could possibly have done this. God says, “Now you complain? Why didn’t you say something before the flood?” As Ibn Ezra teaches, those who stand by and watch the oppression of the weak and helpless are complicit.

It won’t be water in Khan Al Akhmar, but the fire this time. Massive firepower. Firepower to shock and awe into submission the residents, and those of us who intend to be standing beside them. (Please join us) Firepower to wreak the destruction that God promises to refrain from-destruction of a community’s world. Firepower fueled and justified by rumors of planned Palestinian violence. I fear that the forces that will be sent to do battle with the men, women and children of Khan Al Akhmar will be prepped to expect violence, leading them to be violent. The fact that the Palestinian leadership in Khan Al Akhmar is calling for non-violent resistance may be lost on those preparing the troops. I have seen it so many times over the years. I saw it lead to two deaths in Umm Al Hiran.

As Jews, we are taught to emulate Abraham, not Noah. By next week, when the demolitions are likely to take place, we will be reading of Abraham. It will only be another week after that Abraham will demand that the Judge of all the earth do justly. It is here and now that we must demand that those holding power on this piece of the earth do justly.

If we do not, we are complicit.

Shabbat Shalom

Khan Al Akhmar in Threatening Shadow of Kfar Adumim
About the Author
Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the founder and director of the Israeli human rights organization "Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice." Previously, he led "Rabbis For Human Rights" for 21 years. Rabbi Ascherman is a sought after lecturer, has received numerous prizes for his human rights work and has been featured in several documentary films, including the 2010 "Israel vs Israel." He is recognized as a role model for faith based human rights activism.
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