We are taught: "pekuakh nefesh, saving lives" is our highest duty.
This war is killing people now. And the rage it creates will kill more people later.
As Akiba and the sages taught: Learn for the sake of acting. The action site will come toward the end of this letter.
This war marks not only a crisis in the future of Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine, but also a crisis in the moral universe of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
There is a teaching in the Talmud: "If someone comes to kill you, kill him first." Then the Talmud continues: "But if you can prevent his killing you by wounding him rather than killing him, and nevertheless you kill him, you become a murderer."
Violence in self-defense, the rabbis are teaching, is legitimate - perhaps even required. But only self-defense that uses the smallest degree of force that would stop an attack.
This is wisdom for Jews and for the Jewish state, but not only for Jews. Something like it arises in all religious traditions that do not prohibit the use of violence altogether, even in self-defense.
So we all face today the question whether the present government of Israel and the present leadership of Hezbollah are following this precept.
I think not. I think the attacks on Lebanese infrastructure far from the Israeli-Lebanese border, like those on the civilian infrastructure of Gaza just a few weeks ago, are going far over the line of legitimate self-defense.
And I think the rocket attacks by Hezbollah against Haifa and many other Israeli towns, as well as the original attack across the international frontier, also go far over the line of any conceivable "self-defense."
These attacks are killing scores and hundreds of civilians, including children.
For comments on this moral question by a leading Israeli thinker and activist, Tzaly Reshef, see -
What can we do?
The warring governments and nations are too full of fear and rage to stop on their own.
Only UN intervention with a strong peacekeeping force on the border can end these deadly attacks and prevent future ones. Can protect BOTH Israelis and Lebanese.
Only US support can get the UN to act. So far, the US is holding back - while scores of Israelis and hundreds of Lebanese die.
I urge you to speak out in private and in public to urge the US government to act NOW, not weeks from now, to insert a UN force on the border and insist on a cease-fire by both sides. Many lives are at stake. __
That should be followed by an Emergency International Conference for Peace in the Middle East, aimed at universal agreement by all warring parties in the Middle East on peace treaties that protect Israel and a viable new Palestinian state. __
Lives are at stake. In God's Name and for God's sake, please act now!
Please go to our ACTION CENTER AT -
(make sure this comes thru on one line, without any garbage letters from the split between two lines)
And send your US Senators a fax urging them to act NOW.
Beyond that -
Try to bring Jews, Christians, and Muslims together to say this -- in visits to Congress, in letters to the editor, in press conferences. THAT will make the US government take notice.
It won't be easy, especially at a moment like this.
If it is too hard now, try again in September-October when the sacred seasons of the three Abrahamic traditions converge into the Peace of Abraham, Hagar, & Sarah. If addressing the middle east is too hard, then join in addressing issues where agreement may be easier - like healing poverty, like protecting the earth from global scorching.
EVERY ACT THAT BRINGS US TOGETHER IS A SEED FOR THE FUTURE.
Remember, a seed that is growing underground is invisible. But then it sprouts and flowers.
Sow the seed, nourish the seed.
For a handbook on how to do this, buy the book The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Peace and Hope for Jews, Christians, & Muslims by going to -
Write "tent" in the order code space. You will get a 10% discount and free shipping.
And go to http://www.tentofabraham.org
For more details on what you can do.
With blessings of shalom, salaam, paix, peace -