A Great Jewish Sage on the Dangers of Political Violence

In 1968, several years of increasing political violence and unrest, coupled by rising crime and disorder, seemed to come to a climax: first with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., then with the nationwide riots afterward, followed by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and thereafter by the violent protests at the Democratic National Convention. There were also repercussions for Jews: as Dovid Margolin notes, “in a three-month period beginning in September 1968, ten synagogues and Jewish schools were vandalized, set on fire, or even firebombed in New York City” alone. On December 10, Menachem M. Schneerson, the then-rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Ḥasidim, delivered a lengthy sermon touching on the dangers of the moment, which Margolin summarizes:

As the rebbe explained, it is within every person’s power . . . “to pursue righteousness and justice” in accordance with the Torah’s teachings. But this all would—and could—only be accomplished through these same twin values of shalom: peace and wholeness.

“Through acts of violence and destruction one abandons the path of righteousness and justice,” Schneerson stated, “and eventually becomes destructive even to his family and, ultimately, to himself.” Violence, the rebbe explained, could not be easily subdued. Easy gains brought about through violent acts could only appear as such in the short term and would by nature sacrifice long-term progress in their wake. And a society that yielded to violence was not addressing injustice but rather dehumanizing the individuals it claimed to be helping, removing their agency and ability to return to their divine mission.

“Anarchy must ultimately destroy the anarchist,” the rebbe said [in a written version of the same sermon]. “It is for the good of those who would be destructive to be restrained.” In a Godly world, moral ends cannot justify immoral means and cannot possibly bring about a true, lasting, and virtuous justice.

Read more at Chabad.org

More about: Judaism, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, U.S. Politics

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship