Last week, Shira Banki, a 16 years old Israeli teenager, was murdered at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade by a Jew who had just completed serving 10 years in prison for stabbing three people at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.
Also last week, Ali Dawabsheh, an 18-month-old Palestinian baby, was murdered by radical Jewish extremists who burned down her home as part of a “price tag” terrorist attack.
Earlier this week, an Israeli woman driving through East Jerusalem was severely burned by a firebomb that was thrown into her car by suspected Palestinian terrorists who are still at large.
Yesterday, three Israeli soldiers were wounded when a Palestinian terrorist intentionally hit them with his car as they were hitchhiking in the West Bank. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have openly praised the terrorist.
These horrific acts of violence remind us that any religious extremism can be used to kill, maim and terrorize. No matter what religious ideology one embraces, once he uses this ideology to hate, he loses his humanity. Hate does not discriminate, it just destroys.
Confucius taught centuries ago that:
It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.
Sadly, his teaching remains true to this day. All it takes to hate is ignorance, fear of the unknown and the desire to be right. Love requires learning about someone else. It requires a connection, a relationship. Love requires understanding, compassion and the realization that we are all different. Love requires hard work.
Last week, in response to the murder of Ali Dawabsheh, Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, expressed his sorrow and shame over the murder. He wrote that “we must continue to believe in our ability to build bridges of coexistence, or a shared existence.” We must continue to believe that while it is easier to hate, we have the ability to reach out, lift up and love. It’s not easy to do – but as Confucius taught us: “All good things are difficult to achieve.”
May the memories of Ali Dawabsheh and Shira Banki somehow, some way, become a blessing. May their families be comforted by communities of many faiths and traditions. May those who have been injured in the recent attacks in Israel be healed and strengthened. And may we do our part to bring about peace this Shabbat and in the weeks and months ahead.
Rabbi Andrew Jacobs