BERITA TERKINI DARI PALESTINA


The violence wreaked by the Israeli army on Palestinians, caused many of them, young and old, to suffer injury, death, and their homes destroyed. Conversely, a number of Palestinian radicals, who promote "violence against violence", have staged suicide attacks targeting the Israeli civilians.

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which some have sought to present as more than just a war between two Middle Eastern countries, but as a Jewish-Muslim dispute, rages, Britain's chief rabbi, Professor Jonathan Sacks, caused great controversy with what he stated in an interview with the well-known British daily, The Guardian. In the interview, published in August 27, 2002, Sacks sternly criticized Israel, arguing that the country is adopting a stance "incompatible" with the deepest ideals of Judaism, and that the current conflict with the Palestinians is "corrupting" Israeli society.

Sacks, who became the chief rabbi of Britain's Orthodox Jews in 1991, and who has been the leader of a Jewish community of 280,000 in the country, is known as a loyal supporter of Israel and a veteran who has worked for the establishment of peace in the region. "I regard the current situation as nothing less than tragic… It is forcing Israel into postures that are incompatible in the long run with our deepest ideals" said Sacks. He added that "there are things that happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew." He went on to say that he was "profoundly shocked" at the recent reports of IDF soldiers smiling while posing for photographs with the corpses of slain Palestinians. 1

The opinion of Sacks, who holds an important position in the Jewish community, helps to clarify the gravity of the situation. Essentially, Israeli soldiers, proud of having massacred an innocent person, though unaware of why they have even killed him, have lost their and humanity and sense of human decency to such an extent that they have posed for photographs besides their victims. The chief Rabbi's denouncement of this savagery in the name of Judaism reminds us an important fact: It is not permitted for either a true Muslim or a true Jew to shed innocent blood. All divine religions forbid violence, war, and unjust murder, and command peace and the helping to those in need. Another Jewish leader and a critic of Israel's policies, American rabbi Dovi Weiss, makes this remarkable comment:

The Jewish people are commanded by Almighty God to live in peace with all peoples and nations on the face of the globe. Our agenda is simple: It is to humbly worship the Creator at all times. As Torah Jews we are called upon to feel and express our sense of compassion when any person or group of human beings suffers. 2

Islam, a religion founded on peace, also forbids oppression and bloodshed, and maintains that those who kill innocent people will be punished with a terrible chastisement. God has informed us that the killing of an innocent person is tantamount to the murder of all mankind:

...if someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as if he had murdered all mankind. (Qur'an, 5:32)

In truth, what leads Jews to shed blood is not their religion, but radical Zionism, a racist ideology founded on social-Darwinism. Since the day they came to Palestine, Zionists have made every effort to dispossess Palestinian Muslims and establish their ideal states on their land. In the pursuit of this goal, Zionists have thought themselves justified to wreak misery on all including women and children. In the process, they have misinterpreted certain verses of the Old Testament to suit their purposes, or as the chief rabbi stated, corrupted the religion of Judaism.

Jonathan Sacks also noted that Israelis, who have lived centuries in dispersion, should very well understand the plight of Palestinians:

You cannot ignore a command that is repeated 36 times in the Mosaic books: 'You were exiled in order to know what it feels like to be an exile.' I regard that as one of the core projects of a state that is true to Judaic principle. 3

In the same interview, Sacks also answered the questions about a secret meeting he held in 2000 with Abdullah Javadi-Amoli, one of the highest-ranking clerics of Iran, during a conference of religious leaders, and noted, interestingly:

We established within minutes a common language, because we take certain things very seriously: we take faith seriously, we take texts seriously. It's a particular language that believers share. 4

The chief rabbi Sacks' words are an example of the peaceful dialogue that must be established between Muslims and Jews (and, of course, Christians). All three faiths have enjoined justice, honesty, the rescue of the oppressed, and peace and love. The adherents of all the three faiths believe in God, love the same prophets; there should be no hostility between them.

Muslims and Jews believe in one God, who is the creator of the entire universe and all living things. Although their divine books are different, the adherents of both faiths follow the precepts of their books believing that they are the words of God.

When Muslims, Christians and Jews accept common terms and values, the acts of terrorism and the hostility that has persisted for too long, will come to an end, resulting in a world based on love and peace. In the Qur'an, God called on to Muslims in this way:

Say, "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." (Qur'an, 3:64)


(1) Jonathan Freedland, "Israel set on tragic path, says chief rabbi", The Guardian, 27 August 2002
(2) The Torah Demands Justice for the Palestinians" Rabbi Dovid Weiss, June 1, 2001; http://www.netureikarta.org/speeches.htm
(3) Jonathan Freedland, "Israel set on tragic path, says chief rabbi", The Guardian, 27 August 2002
(4) Jonathan Freedland, "Israel set on tragic path, says chief rabbi", The Guardian, 27 August 2002