By LIZ KELNER
I start with Hineni — “I am here.”
I am Jewish and very proud of the many Jews, including my ancestors, who with courage have stood for and struggled for peace, justice and survival, who have taken great risks for our people and for all people.
But today I have a very heavy heart and tears have been flowing for the death and destruction of so many as we now face the unimaginable unfolding in Gaza. Israel, with all its U.S.-supported ammunition, is unleashing unprecedented death and destruction on many hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians, people who bear no responsibility for the recent horrific Hamas assault in Israel and who are currently suffering a cruel blockade imposed by Israel — no food, no water, no electricity and no medicine, while what’s left of their infrastructure is being bombed to the ground.
The Hebrew word “Hineni” means for me in a profound sense “I am here” before God … it means I don’t look away no matter how painful … it means that I will speak what is true for me no matter what the consequences. Some say there is no such thing as “truth.” My experience and wisdom says otherwise.
I pray. What do I pray for? I pray that the Israeli soldiers carrying out orders for the land invasion of Gaza will say “No!” I pray that the U.S. government supporting this invasion of Gaza, will say “No, stop!” I pray that all governments treating Israel with impunity will say “No.” I’m praying that the truth-telling, even in our mass media, about the conditions resulting from Israel’s blockade in Gaza of food, water, medicine and electricity, will open the eyes of enough U.S. citizens who will say, “No, not in our name.”
I’m praying that the horrific daily bombing and killing of Palestinian civilians will stop. I’m praying that telling 1 million people to evacuate when there is nowhere to go — “all borders closed, sorry” — will be seen as the criminal act of cruelty that it is. I’m praying that all lives be valued and that war, human- to-human violence, will and must end.
I am not a “self-hating Jew,” a term that has been a common accusation by Jews toward Jews who are critical of Zionism and Israeli policies. I am trying to be a good Jew in the company of so many good Jews that have gone before me and surround me now. Hineni. I am here and I am ready.
Liz Kelner is a retired social worker and lifelong activist for peace. A past director of Traprock, she lives in Greenfield and is active with Traprock’s Franklin County for Peace.