The Fast of the 17th of Tamuz

July 16, 2014 10 Comments

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.


  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Thanks for this reflection, Miriam! Situations like this really put the notion of love as a force for social transformation to the ultimate test!

  • aimee san says:

    Calling Israel racist is not accurate. The issue is that it’s difficult to make peace with people who have stated often that the death of all jews is a goal.

  • Miriam, I appreciate your willingness to take a stand, speak your truth and chose love instead of fear and the subsequent violence. I rejoice with you!

  • MSmith says:

    Writing this was courageous. Thank you.

  • Miriam Messinger says:

    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate how complicated the situation is. I wonder if that means that we actually need to ask more questions and talk more to those who we assume might disagree with us. It is actually why I choose to start with love. Fear seems not to have gotten us far. GIven that some on each side do see the “other” not in equal ways, how do we proceed?

  • Mohamed Brahimi says:

    Miriam. thank you for this post. I am very sad to say that in this time and age there are still people who actually believe that the goal of the Arabs is the death of all Jews. How does one become convinced of such garbage?? I am at a loss of words… I really am

    • Aimee san says:

      Mohammad. It was the actual statement released from Hamas. Believe me, it saddens me greatly as I hate violence and seeing children hurt is heartbreaking. But many Arab countries don’t recognize even the right of Israel to exist and it’s hard to work with that. As a mom of 3 kids, I would like nothing more to see than peace in the Middle East and all over. But we can’t deny certain things are stated goals if we are going to get to that point.

      • Mohamed Brahimi says:

        I can cite thousands of instances where someone of Jewish faith or Israeli citizenship called for the death and extermination not only of Palestinians but also of Arabs. Even as recently as last week, an Israeli law maker called for the killing of all Palestinian mothers. But, how does citing voices of hate contribute anything to this exchange that reasonable people like you and I and having My political science research skills professor taught me that the plural of Anecdote is NOT Data
        So, please refrain from supporting your axioms with stories
        Thank you

  • Marc Gurvitch says:

    From: “Roy, Sara”

    Date: July 19, 2014 7:54:21 AM EDT

    Subject: From Dr. Mads Gilbert, the Norwegian hero who is in Gaza right now.


    Dearest friends –

    The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

    The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!

    Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).

    My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.

    Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes,cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hrs. enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterdays hospitals.But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormous resolute.t

    And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!

    An then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made and paid in and by US.

    Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?

    I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.

    I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.

    Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

    But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” onslaught on Gaza.

    The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.

    Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.


    Gaza, Occupied Palestine

    Mads Gilbert MD PhD
    Professor and Clinical Head
    Clinic of Emergency Medicine
    University Hospital of North Norway
    N-9038 Tromsø, Norway
    Mobile: +4790878740

    The above letter is the reality of the Gaza War. Israel has transformed a horrendous crime(the murder of 3 Jewish youth) into an campaign to destroy HAMAS. Collective punishment is racism.

  • Zohar Rom says:

    I humbly suggest that if you’re reading these comments, please STOP what you’re doing and look to The Parents Circle for the big picture. This is easily the most credible organization on peace in the Middle East because its membership is 50/50 Israeli/Palestinian, each member has had a relative killed in the conflict, and each member has said, “Enough! It’s time for peace.” The site is — read it and weep, and then support what they’re doing. Otherwise, you’re just talk.

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