The Conspiracy

On healing the world through violence [Tikkun Olam]

Tikkun Olam

Rabbi Donniel Hartman believes that Tikkun Olam may be achieved through the assassination of terrorists | photo by flickr user AjDele Photography (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


I shudder to think that violence is being hailed as a legitimate and necessary solution to any problem, much less the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been through far too much bloodshed already. But Rabbi Donniel Hartman disagrees.

So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I don’t have the torah expertise that he has, maybe I don’t live in the state of Israel and thus have little ground to stand on when advocating policy decisions, maybe he’s right. But maybe, just maybe, this once, violence is not, as it has never been, the answer.

When the United States killed Osama Bin Laden last May, I wasn’t happy with the decision, as I believed it would have potentially violent recourse, but I wasn’t sorry he was dead. As a New Yorker unable to have a rational perspective on what happened on 9/11 due to the intense emotional nature of the events for me, as an American, and as someone living on this earth, I couldn’t be sorry he was dead. And thus, I can understand where Rabbi Hartman is coming from when he speaks against those who have made the lives of all Israelis essentially a ticking time bomb of fear.

However, violence wasn’t the answer then, and it’s not the answer now. Would America have gained respect from the rest of the world if they had put Bin Laden on trial, even if the verdict would have resulted in his death anyway? Probably. What is to be gained by taking the higher road and not resorting to brute strength is invaluable. If Israel wants to show that it is serious about peace, it must do so by ending the bloodshed. Incarcerated, terrorists are a valuable display of force and reckoning. Dead, they are more bodies to be avenged, and the cycle of violence only continues.

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