We are a diverse people, and our heterogeneousness has never been more apparent than it is right now. There are passionate Jews advocating extreme pacifism, extreme militancy and everything in between. Some people love Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while others cannot stand him. Many people laud the formidable support for Israel demonstrated by the United States government and President Barack Obama, while others are convinced that Obama is rooting for Hamas. The opinions are strong and the arguments are vociferous.
In Israel, some arguments have taken a violent turn as peace activists and war hawks clash in the streets of Tel Aviv. We are a nation both united and divided by our shared concern. It is beginning to feel a little more like the Great Revolt 2,000 years ago. Squabbles are morphing into schism.
Diversity of opinion is beautiful. The Talmud, the primary text of post-biblical Judaism, is practically a guidebook on diversity of opinion. We pride ourselves on “two Jews, three opinions … and very close friends.”
But I fear that we are veering off into dangerous partisan territory. We need to remember first and foremost, we are Jewish brothers and sisters. Disagreements and disputes are secondary to our primary state of unity. Physical violence and vitriolic discourse are not our way, and they cannot become our way. In our hearts, we know how to disagree in one moment and embrace in the next, and we cannot allow the conflict in Israel to make us forget this vital skill.
Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, “Together, We Remember”, Jewish Journal (1-7 August 2014), 21.