Monday, May 31, 2010

It's a trap!

Like most of you, I'm still trying to process the raid on the Gaza flotilla and its aftermath. One thing is clear to me, though: no good comes of it.

Let me start by saying this: I agree with the Israeli assurance that, once those commandos hit the decks and the people on board started attacking (including with captured firearms), there was little the IDF sailors could do except respond in kind. Here's my quesiton: why did those sailors need to board those boats at all?

We've been hearing and reading about the flotilla for some time, and this is not the first attempt; everyone knew it was a publicity stunt and that the participants WANTED the IDF to storm the boats and cause a ruckus. No one could have anticipated the incident turning deadly, but it was clear from the get-go that they wanted to put Israel in the worst light possible. It was clearly a trap; so why did the Israeli Navy and government walk right in?

Israel is losing a very important battle right now: that of world opinion. I know there is a long-held sense of fatalism: that Israel never has the upper hand there, never has world opinion on its side, so why try? That Israel should look only after her strategic needs. The problem is that world opinion is part of that strategy, and it is becoming increasingly important. Perhaps there was a time to blow off world opinion to some degree, but when the country's leadership seems so tone-deaf that it's alienating long-standing allies, like the US and Turkey, one wonders what is going on? Before, it was merely the bad timing of building more settlements and Avigdor Lieberman insulting Turkey (which are both bad enough); now 10 people, mostly European protesters, are dead.

I agree very much with this analysis in Ha'aretz: Israel needs a full inquiry into the matter, and her leaders need to take a long, hard look at their policies. How is killing 10 protesters bringing Gilad Shalit back? How is this securing Israel's safety well into the future? How is making Israel a pariah state--eliminating several years of goodwill in Europe and the US and Turkey--going to ensure and Israel for my children and grandchildren? How is giving Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran more ammunition helping achieve any strategic goals?

Israel deserves better, and the world deserves better, than this mess now docked at Ashdod. In the meantime, let's hope Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Gabi Ashkenazi are better at extracting themselves from the trap than they are at avoiding it. So far, I'm not impressed.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A prayer for our Soldiers on Memorial Day

Adapted from this one put forward by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. We'll be using it tonight for services, and I'll be bringing it as my benediction for the Delaware Memorial Day Service on May 30th.

God of peace, we stand before You with respect and concern for those who have been summoned to protect and secure our nation and the world.
Give them the courage to meet their tasks.
Show compassion to them as they seek to make the world safer for us and our loved ones.
Ease the pain of their loneliness as they face the darkness of their daunting task.
Help those far from the comfort and safety of home find value and meaning in their mission.
Let them sense the yearning of those who await their return and long for their presence.
Protect them when they find themselves in harm’s way.
Salve their wounds with Your Healing Balm.
O sovereign who desires life, let them feel Your presence, and your protection
Return them safely to their families and loved ones, that they may bless your name through the lives they live.
May their efforts further the cause of peace throughout the world and bring us closer to the day when “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war anymore.”

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blessings Abound

Thought I'd share my invocation from the 50th Annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Dover, DE. Interesting experience and quite meaningful, and nice to meet some people in service. In many ways what I said grew out of the comments left in response to a question posted on my Facebook.

Some of you may recognize some of the language pilfered from the Reform Movement's Gates of Prayer prayerbook.

Governor, Lt. Governor, esteemed servants of the People of Delaware past and present, fellow clergy, Friends of faith: let us pray:

Mkor Hachaim, source of life, we come to you today on this morning of prayer to ask your blessings. Today is a Jubilee, as we celebrate 50 years of prayer together. We are grateful for these 50 years of opportunity to bless you and praise your name, and those Governors past and present, who served with compassion and justice. We rejoice for those still with us in blessing and health, and remember those whose memory abides as a loving benediction.
We thank you for the sustenance you have given us this morning and those who have prepared it, allowing us to fulfill the words of your Scripture, that we have eaten and been satisfied, and now we bless.
We pray: Establish us, dedicated to your Holy name, so that we may be worthy of your greatness and love. May every heart which seeks you find it. Have compassion upon us. Preserve us from sickness, war and strife. Keep us from hatred and uncharitableness toward our neighbors and grant that, dwelling in safety and walking in uprightness, we may enjoy the fruit of our labors in peace.
We pray: be with all who spend themselves for the good of humanity and bear the burdens of others. Who give bread to the hungry, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the homeless. Establish O God the work of their hands, and grant them an abundant harvest of the good seed they are sowing.
We pray: Bless our children, O God, and help us so to fashion their souls by precept and example, that they may ever love the good and turn from evil, revere Your teaching and bring honor to their people. May they guard for future ages the truths revealed to our ancestors.
We pray, Grant us peace, Your most precious gift, and give us the will to proclaim it’s message to all the peoples of the earth. Bless our country and those who defend it, that we may always be a stronghold of peace and its advocate among the nations
Strengthen the bonds of friendship among the inhabitants of all lands, and may the love of your name hallow every home and every heart.
For all these and more O God, we praise you and offer our humble prayer to you. Blessed is the Eternal God, who gives us our life, who sustains us and brought us all to this moment filled with awe and radical amazement. Amen.