Is Israel the proud new owner of a hamster?

Always fun to throw a shout out to fellow bloggers ranting (or passionately discussing…) about Jewish life way out here in the Diaspora. The lovely Brooklyner (is that what you call someone from Brooklyn?) has picked up on the moral delicacies of what to do with the current state of affairs in Gaza.

There’s something odd about the notion of Israel continuing to provide water to Gaza, yet cutting off oil as a power source. It seems a little two faced. Shouldn’t the response be a little more balanced? I’m always caught at a loss to find the balance between Israel’s right and responsibility to defend itself, it’s responsibility to care for those Palestinians who live in its midst under its direct or indirect control (the ger toshav who the Torah explicitly instructs us to respect and treat as one of our own), and it’s responsibility to find some way to get the Palestinians to care for their own.

Look, there’s no concrete answer right now. I don’t pretend to have one, and I don’t imagine anyone else does right now.

And I’m not going to go on and on and on and on about how the situation sucks and it’s so and so’s fault and blah blah blah.

That’s been done. Ad nauseum. By me, and others. But here’s what I have to share…

There was a comment posted in response to a Ha’aretz article some years ago. I don’t recall who posted it, or where they were from. But I will never forget the undeniable wisdom that this anonymous being shared. I hold it dear to me and I continually find that it helps inform my entire perspective of the matzav.

It went something like this:

The Torah says that Abraham and Sarah’s decedents will inherit the land, but it odes not tell us what to do with it. Wise beneficiaries will use an inheritance wisely… the book of Deuteronomy says “Lo bashamayim hi” – it is not in the heavens that we derive authority. God gave authority and wisdom and patience to us. Now let us use it.”

This beautiful midrash has much to teach us. Much more than my pedantic musings will allow. So in short here’s my question in response to the Gaza brouhaha – Is it a show of divinely bestowed authority and wisdom and patience to dangle canisters of oil over the heads of ordinary Gazans, while graciously letting them drink from our hands?

Contrary to the rhetoric of the anti-Israel crowd, the Gazans don’t live in some sort of hamster cage. Or at least that’s what we insist on. I think. Right?


  1. David says:

    Good questions, few answers… at least for now. But one correction.

    Gazans can hardly be categorized within the concept of “Ger Toshav!” Evacuation of Gaza happened two years ago – it is now nothing more or less than a foreign nation state.

    Gazans are not gerim, they are the Phillistines! (Which is convenient, cause the Phillistines lived in Gaza)

  2. jepaikin says:

    A foreign nation state?
    Possibly — the intricacies of drawing up borders is something I’ll leave to the League of Nations.

    Perhaps you are right… technically the Gazans no longer live within the midst of Israel proper. But Israel controls Gaza’s water supply, power supply, all of its borders, its airspace, and its coastline. Sounds to me like Israel has a tender relationship with dear old Gaza. And it is one that is certainly not “foreign.”

    So… the actual translation of Ger Toshav at Deut. 24:14 is “a stranger in one of the communities of your land.” Is Gaza one of the communities of Israel?

    If yes… then we have an obligation to the strangers who live there.

    If not… then what the hell are we doing in control of its borders and resources?

  3. jepaikin says:

    Edit: not all of its borders. Egypt controls a border also.

    And Israel expects Egypt to take some responsibility.
    Shouldn’t Israel, also?

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s