Monday, November 9, 2009

Fort Hood

I have been reading with keen interest the stories about the murder of 12 soldiers and one civilian at Fort Hood. I was appalled to learn that a physician would take life rather than fight to preserve it. I was captivated by the heroism of Officer Kimberly Munley. As with similar tales of Columbine and Virginia Tech, the news media is filled with attempts to understand the murderer's motivations. He was opposed to the US wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. He was distraught about his upcoming deployment. He was unable to bear the pain and scars returning soldiers shared with him. He was harassed, ridiculed and perhaps even persecuted because he was a Muslim. Some of these points are no doubt true. I can only imagine the scars soldiers carry with them. I believe that he was the victim of anti-Muslim hate. But shooting at unarmed men and women is never a way to solve grievances, whether real or imagined. Shouting Allah Akhbar--God is great--when taking lives, only diminishes God in this world rather than enlarges religious feelings and passions. If a Jew had done this terrible deed--as Jack Teitel is similarly accused by the Israeli authorities of doing--you would hear me say, "This is not Judaism! This is a defamation of everything we believe in!" I have said this in the past and so I say it again. If a Jew had done this you would not hear statements of let's explore why he is so aggrieved. You would hear instead, "Where have we failed as Jewish teachers?" Where is this debate among Muslim leaders?  I do not excuse the psychiatrist's tormentors. I hold little forgiveness for those who bully others. Part of being Jewish is the attempt to understand the heart of the stranger. If such accusations of discrimination are true, the army should do its part to fight it. The army has in the past led the way in healing the rifts in our society and there is indeed a growing and wrenching divide that must be bridged. I hope and pray that our current armed forces will do its part. I offer this prayer. "Yitgadal v'yitkadash--May God's greatness be sanctified and manifest." May the most recent victims of hate--and despair--rest in peace. May their families be granted healing and consolation. Allah Akhbar--and Baruch HaShem for that matter--must only be said when human life is saved and preserved. May God's greatness be forever praised--in celebration of life!

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