CREDOS: Torah — IV

The Israeli army is a dedicated and disciplined force, subservient to its civilian government but, as in other armies, its officers like to call the shots and reap the glory, even on problems that can be better solved by diplomacy.

I don’t believe that we can open the Bible and find the answer to the intractable dilemmas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Torah is not an oracle. In fact, the indeterminacy of the story of Moses and the rock shows that, in times of crisis, leaders may, with the best of intentions, make bad decisions. Jews have been arguing for three thousand years what Moses did

wrong at the rock. We’ll probably be arguing for quite some time about whether the current military operation in the Gaza Strip was justified, and whether it was successful.

But the Torah story does serve to remind us that while crises call for strong leaders who do not hesitate to act, those leaders would do best to act soberly, and to be humble enough to admit that they can do no more than make the best educated guesses they can about what the outcome of a military operation will be.

I hope that Palestinian Muslim leaders are using the stories of their tradition to reach similar conclusions. Unfortunately, many Muslim extremists seem determined to escalate the conflict. I suspect they hope for a harsh Israeli response that will gain them international sympathy. But battering the rock until it breaks is not a good strategy for either side. — (Concluded)