Because of the unique nature of Judaism, it can be hard to know who is Jewish, and who is not. That’s why it is impossible to live here for any length of time without hearing the age-old discussion: Who is a Jew?
It’s a question. It’s a topic for discussion. It’s often even an agonizing dilemna. And, there are times in Jewish/Israeli history when the question of Who is a Jew is a truly painful subject.
Not being a Jew myself, I watch this struggle from the sidelines – and it’s a privileged position that allows me to view the soul-searching of the Jewish people. And, there’s a lot of that going on.
One bit of soul-searching involves the current trade in suffering. Israelis in the North are suffering, and we suffer along with them. However, we also know that Lebanese civilians are suffering too – and that THEIR families and friends suffer too.
It’s an insane dilemna. Israelis have had to choose between Lebanese suffering and Israeli suffering. They’ve had to choose between Arab children and Jewish children. They’ve had to decide if Israeli mothers and fathers are more important than Lebanese fathers and mothers.
If you’ve never had to make that choice, trust me. It is horrible. True, some Israelis are so upset that the choice comes easily – until the dust settles and the recrimination begins.
So, how do you choose?
In one sense, you don’t. In one sense, you go after military targets wherever they are – no matter whether they are next to a school, or a hospital, or an old age home. Military targets must be destroyed.
That’s one kind of sense.
The other kind is one that YOU participate in. The Arabs are beating their chests over the truly horrifying civilian casualty figures, and when you listen to them, you are being launched into the debate. When you hear about the death toll among non-combatants, Arab apologists will ask you to condemn Israel.
I am asking you to think.
Both sides will be asking you to engage in a question much like the one that Jews have struggled with for generations. Arab apologists will ask you to accept the civilian death toll in southern Lebanon as evidence of evil on Israel’s part. Israel will ask you to tell them what else they could be doing.
I will ask you to think. Just because someone isn’t carrying a gun when they are killed doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t a combatant. Just as an army truck driver is a legitimate target, so is anyone else in the Hizbullah support structure.
Let me boil all this down to a single point. When you hear of the horrible civilian casualties, ask yourself an important question:
Who is a civilian?