Dear Friends,

While I at one time questioned the timing of the United States’ embassy move, I do now believe that it was the right thing to do and that there probably will never be a “good” time for this action. Some three-thousand years ago, King David designated Jerusalem as the capital of ancient Israel, and throughout the millennia our ancestors prayed for a time when Jerusalem might yet again be established as such.

Yes, I believe that the formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel should have been made seventy years ago, and in spite of much of the world, I rejoice in this occurrence. It corrects a distortion of what has been a reality for the people of Israel, and for all who recognize Israel as a sovereign, independent nation.

But my sense of gratification is compromised as I know that on the same day of the celebration of Jerusalem, not far away in Gaza, more than sixty people lost their lives and more than one-thousand were wounded in protests near the border fence. I’m sad about that. Sad that the people of Gaza and the people of the West Bank have been manipulated by their corrupt leaders. I’m sad that life among the Palestinians appears to be so cheap, and that they continue to choose death over life, as the people have been nurtured by hatred and a delusional sense of the future.

Yes, Israel is here to stay. And for sure, most of the people of Israel want nothing more than to live in peace with the Palestinian people—to have two states for two peoples living side by side. But at the present time, P.M. Netanyahu’s observation of years ago seems prophetic: “If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there could be peace tomorrow. But if Israel put down its weapons, there would be no more Israel!”

Did Israel employ too much force? I don’t know. I am not a twenty-year-old soldier being asked to defend my homeland. I do know that IDF officials have been repeating over the past weeks that the goal is to perform the mission with a minimum of fatalities on the other side and to shoot at people’s feet, even as Hamas seeks to cause as many fatalities as possible—on both sides.

Throughout the centuries, our ancestors prayed: “And may it be that the holy city of Jerusalem will speedily be rebuilt in our lifetime.” So have we been privileged to see that hope become a reality. But I hope for something more: That the Palestinians will have the courage to choose life and make peace. At that time, I will be among those who recognize East Jerusalem as their capital. In the meantime, let us hold on to our hope for a better time for all hurting people of our world.

Shabbat Shalom

         Rabbi David Greenberg