When Abraham our father opened his tent to two strangers, he was committing a revolutionary act. Fear of the stranger is deeply ingrained in human consciousness. When we examine the word “kindness” we see that it contains the root “kin.” It is far easier to be kind to our kin, those from our own tribe. Our ancestors established a system of ethics that sees the humanity in all people. Yet, we read further on in the story that Abraham drove away his son Ishmael and the boy’s mother. Surely this is a tear in the fabric of our heritage that caused and still causes endless bloodshed and suffering.
As I write this, leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in Washington, D.C. engaged in negotiations. This process is of necessity secret. Will they succeed in birthing a Palestinian state within the agreed upon nine months? So far neither party has walked out.
All of us who love Israel hope and pray for her to remain Jewish and democratic, and gain respect from the rest of the world. I maintain that we as American Jews need to support the peace process wholeheartedly. To do so requires a leap of faith, yes. We need to put aside thousands of years of fear and mistrust, all based on brutal historic reality. If not now, when?