Dear Rabbi, What are we to do about the horrors taking place in Israel and Gaza? As a Jew I am furious at Hamas and horrified by Israel. Is this merely a case of a pox on both their houses?
The reason why this and every other conflict around the globe continues is simple: people want it to. We humans are innately violent. We divide ourselves into warring camps because war is what we do, and doing it alongside like-minded others gives us a sense of righteousness and purpose. We invent reasons for war so we can give vent to our warlike nature.
Because we are warlike we are easily manipulated by those who like war. Those who benefit from war politically and financially (the military-industrial-media-financial-political-entertainment complex) find a ready audience for their propaganda and fear mongering.
Look how jazzed war correspondents are on television. Why does Wolf Blitzer of CNN have to broadcast from Jerusalem when he is doing nothing more than introducing other journalists and guests with whom he could speak just as effectively from CNN headquarters in Atlanta? He wants to be there. We want to be there (vicariously, of course). We love war.
As long as we identify as “this” or “that,” as long as we are willing to be manipulated into a zero–sum worldview of “us against them,” there can be no end to war. Only when we see the world through a nonzero lens, only when we see living as a matter of “us and them,” and eventually “all of us together” can we hope to put an end to war.
Who is helping us to do this? No one. There is no one to help us. We have to do this for ourselves. And we don’t. Maybe we can’t. And so we fight.