As the Israel-Gaza violence escalates, I get more and more inquires about the organization I lead, asking where Tanenbaum stands and calling on us to speak out. In a number of ways, albeit not always directly, we have tried to say that we are torn apart by the violence on both sides. But that is not enough. It is time to try to clarify, though I know that many will not be satisfied because they want Tanenbaum and me to take a side.
We do take a side – it is the side of life. And the pursuit of a more peaceful world where differences – including religious differences – can thrive.
That means that Tanenbaum unequivocally condemns the use and abuse of religion in the furtherance of violence and geo-political aims.
It means that we denounce the extremists on both sides, who fuel war, horrific violence and hate.
It means that we oppose the verbal violence and rhetoric, the stereotypes and the “othering” that makes the human beings on both sides seem less human.
It means that Tanenbaum abhors war and violence, and that our hearts ache for the victims on both sides.
We are watching a human catastrophe for which words fail. Real people live in Israel and Gaza– people like you and me, who simply want to live their lives. Instead, they are being brutalized.
We see the Palestinian mother who watched her child die from a bomb. And the Palestinian father who is unable to keep his family safe. They are real, and I cannot imagine their agony. So too, is the Israeli mother who buries her son. And the Jewish child in Israel, who knows that she is alive today, only because Hitler did not finish what he started. And who also knows that the constant rockets mean that some of her neighbors are dedicated to making sure Hitler’s plan for her is finally realized.
These men, women and children – the real victims on both sides – are why Tanenbaum works to combat the abuse of religion and the violence. They are why we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace for all.
This is where we stand. On the side of life. The death and devastation must stop.