That might change, however. For the class I'm taking, I had to write a short paper about an issue involving the Jewish Faith. This is what I wrote:
On May 30, 2010 a flotilla carrying human rights workers was attacked by Israeli armed forces on international waters. The flotilla was taking supplies to the impoverished Gaza strip.
That attack was prompted after the Israeli military requested to inspect the ships, to look for materials that are not allowed to enter the Gaza strip. The Israeli government has banned aluminum, glass and other materials that might serve to build bases for hostile forces.
The blockade goes back as far as 2007, but the tension in the region started after the independence of Israel in 1948, when the Arab countries surrounding the newly founded country attacked it. The conflict between Muslim and Jewish people goes back to biblical times.
The attack on the flotillas brought disapproval to Israel’s measures towards the aid flotillas and to the Gaza embargo. After that, Israel relaxed its security along the Gaza border. This action could help alleviate the tension ins the middle East, tensions that ultimately affect the entire world, as they are related to the oil market and US international policy.
Reactions from the Jewish community have been mixed. Some army rabbis use the Jewish scripture to encourage soldiers to fight for their land:
"[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it." This is an excerpt from a publication entitled "Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead," issued by the IDF rabbinate. The text is from "Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner," who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.
On the other hand, after the attack to the flotilla, some rabbis have expressed their disgust, arguing also from their scripture:
Our silence now is an act of betrayal to the values we purport to live by and to the words of the prophet we read every Yom Kippur:
Is this the fast I desire? A day for people to starve
their bodies? Or bow their heads like a bulrush
or wear sackcloth and smear oneself with ashes...
No! This is the fast the Lord desires:
Unlock the fetters of oppression
Untie the cords of the yoke
Let the exploited go free, break off every chain.
share your bread with the hungry,
Shelter the poor in your own house
clothe the naked and do not ignore your own kin.
As rabbis, we believe all human beings are our kin. We cannot abide the suffering inflicted upon the people of Gaza.
Both declarations are made by religious scholars and based on Jewish scripture. Since the root of the conflict between the Jewish and Muslim community is in great part religious, it is important to consider the way in which religion is going to be used in this conflict. While it can be used to encourage troops to protect the country’s land, it can also be used to defend the human life, even if that involves complying with Israel’s enemies’ desires.
What happens with the Jewish scripture is pretty much the same thing that happens with other holy texts. It can be used for good or evil, depending how it is interpreted, and even those terms are not exact. Most of us will agree that a correct use of a holy text will advocate love and compassion. However, the rabbis who use it to encourage soldiers to fight will certainly justify their use of scripture for other uses. With this I don't want to say that a piece of scripture is inherently evil, but instead, imperfect. It depends on men to be interpreted. It has nothing of divine and nothing to do with God. At least not a loving and compassionate God.