Yoffie: Mideast War One in Which Rights and Wrongs are Beyond All Doubt Calls Death of Innocents "An Unspeakable Tragedy"
Westfield, NJ - August 1-Speaking at an event called to show solidarity with Israel, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the war in Israel is one "in which the rights and wrongs are beyond all doubt," but he called the death of innocents "an unspeakable tragedy that rends the heart."
Yoffie told the crowd at the gathering, called by the Jewish Federation of Central Jersey, that the distinguishing feature of the conflict is "the utter clarity of the issues and of the moral choices that it presents."
"Could the rights and wrongs of this conflict be any clearer? If Israels cause is not just in this war, then no cause can ever be just."
Yoffie took aim at those who accuse Israel of overreacting and of failing to exercise proportionality.
"To my fellow Americans who speak in this way, here is my question: if you were living in Houston, and if a terrorist body that the Mexican government refused to disarm were firing deadly rockets into your neighborhood night after night, endangering your life and terrorizing your children, would you be talking of restraint and proportionality? Or would you be demanding an immediate response from your government to assure that not a single additional missile threatened your familys well-being?" Yoffie said.
"This is not an abstract question. We know what President Roosevelt did when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. We know what President Kennedy did when the Russians put missiles in Cuba. And we know what President Bush did in Afghanistan, when it gave refuge to those who attacked us on September 11.," he said.
However, he added, "let us not think for a moment, God forbid, that we can be indifferent to the death of innocents. The death of any child, Israeli or Arab, Muslim or Jew, is an unspeakable tragedy that rends the heart."
He said what distinguishes Israel is that immediately after the tragedy of Jana, Israel's government said it was an awful mistake, and the Israeli media were filled with anguished debates about the moral implications of Israel's actions. "Israelis want to know that everything that can be done to avoid civilian casualties is being done," he said.