I have never observed the Fast of the 17th of Tamuz. Yesterday, I did. I fasted in solidarity with others who were making a stand with our bodies for peace and in mourning lives lost in Palestine/Israel. At a time of horrific violence and avowed enmity between so many Muslims and Jews, it was a comfort to be fasting together, during Ramadan.
The fasting helped me to reflect on the fear and brutality that lead a nation to choose bombing as a means of protection. I have been deeply saddened not only by the murder of four teenagers but the ensuing violence that has left many in fear and over 190 Palestinians and 1 Israeli dead. The disparity in numbers is not to be overlooked, it speaks to power and institutional might. The violence inflicts a wound on all our souls.
We have too many wounds, both our peoples. I am moved by the coverage that has people recognizing our shared humanity: children saying they don’t want children “on the other side” to be in fear either, Israelis visiting the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, members of an interfaith alliance in Jerusalem breaking their fasts together last night. It is love – seeing the legitimacy of the other — against the odds. It is love that liberates, that sheds the centuries (for Jews) of scars and fear and chooses instead to be whole.
Let us rejoice that, despite all, we have many acts of love and generosity and bravery, the kind of bravery that is about taking risks and standing together rather than relying on weapons and destruction. May Israel use her power for right, end the racism, and value the lives of Palestinians. May righteous leaders, on all sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict, emerge who can hone the path of peace and love.