Social Issues

Rabbi Betsy Forester on achieving peace in Israel and Gaza

Beth Israel Center Rabbi Betsy Forester shares thoughts about the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, the traumas intensified by this terrorism, and how hopes for peace in the region are imperiled.

By Aditi Debnath | Here & Now

November 21, 2023

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Rabbi Betsy Forester:
The organizations that I work with and that I consider partners have been deafeningly silent, and even those that are not silent are equivocating, as if, somehow, people who are murdered because they were born in the state of Israel and because they live in a place that does have some very unjust policies and practices, like our country does, but different ones, because they live there, and there can be no equivocation. It's not the same. We just experienced the most horrific violence and murder on our people, 1,300 in one day, another 100 since, since the Holocaust, and this is deeply, deeply traumatizing and retraumatizing for us, and it happened not because these people are combatants against Palestinian lives and and justice. These are people who actually work for justice and peaceful coexistence and are raising children, were raising children, many of whom are now dead, with the intention of peaceful coexistence with their neighbors in Gaza, and they were murdered because, and I wanna be very clear about this, because they're Jews, and we like to think that there must be some justification, resistance at any cost, fight the occupation. Hamas is and has always been a jihadist, messianic, extremist terrorist organization. That is what they claim to be, and their intention was to kill Jews. This act of brutality they have done, which is ongoing, because there are hundreds of hostages still, and because the trauma and grief are ongoing, will set back any hopes for peace and for a two-state solution, I fear, by decades. There was so much momentum. There was so much active concern from all around the world and within Israel for justice in the occupied West Bank, and what Hamas has done has so undermined that process. They have not brought justice to their people, not before and not now.

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