Iran is getting desperate so we shouldn’t be surprised. The U.S. has orchestrated serious sanctions against Iran and due to a world boycott oil is piling up on Iranian vessels in the Persian gulf with nowhere to go. Israeli agents have, according to most analysts, managed to assassinate a number of key Iranian nuclear scientists and officials, as well as slow the Iranian nuclear program through cyber warfare. One would expect, then, for Iran to counter attack in the way they know how: through a terror attack against Israeli civilians carried out by their proxy, the Hezbollah. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Barak, and by some reports, sources at the U.S. Pentagon, all agree that yesterday’s attack against Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria was the work of a member of a Hezbollah terror cell, acting under a broad directive of the Iranian government to attack Israelis. (Moreover, it cannot be a coincidence that the explosion occurred on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that left 85 people dead.) The death of 5 innocent Israeli tourists and the wounding of dozens more is a terrible tragedy. We will say kaddish for those murdered and pray for the healing of those injured at our services at 6:30 this evening. But, let us recognize that they did not die in vain. They are casualties in a necessary war being fought to stop a dangerous enemy from getting nuclear weapons.
Sadly, we will also be saying kaddish this evening for 12 Americans who were murdered and praying for the healing of scores of others who were injured in an attack last night by a heavily armed shooter at a showing of the latest Batman movie at a cinema multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. While this incident is awful and shocking, should we really be surprised? As Chemi Shalev put it in today’s, Haaretz, the Israeli paper, “Mass, random shooting sprees are as American as baseball and apple pie. America’s ridiculous gun laws won’t change, but the ‘Batman Murderer,’ as he will come to be known, is sure to secure a multimillion dollar book and movie deal.” I don’t know about the book deal but Shalev is surely right about our gun laws. How ridiculous we must look to the rest of the world, especially to Israelis, who do everything they can to protect their citizens from terror, while we let any bozo who can walk and chew gum at the same time (or not) get their hands on semi-automatic weapons! The diabolical planning of the 24 year old shooter gives lie to the NRA claim that letting people carry concealed weapons would allow them to protect themselves from such madmen. No one was going to stop that man after he released smoke bombs and began shooting in the dark. Stopping these kinds of terror attacks means stopping the flow of weapons, both those currently legal and illegal, from being purchased by those who don’t have a special need for protection or desire a basic rifle for hunting. It is well known that our tradition teaches that to save one life is to save the entire world (Talmud). When will we find the personal commitment and political will to overcome our corrupt political process and end this madness? Let us not, as we have in the past, allow the victims of this terrible terror attack die in vain.
One final note: Those of a fatalistic, traditional spiritual bent might say that it is not surprising that these tragedies occurred at this time of year. We are currently in a period of semi-mourning on the Jewish calendar, the three weeks leading up to the fast day known as, “Tisha B’Av”. On Tisha B’Av we remember and mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, both the First Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. and the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans, in 70 C.E. This year Tisha B’Av will take place a week from this Saturday evening, on July 28 th . As we have for the past few years, Temple Sinai will join with several other Reform Temples in the area to observe this day with a special program and the traditional reading of the Book of Lamentations. On July 28 th at 7:30 p.m. we will meet at Temple Beth Or in Washington Township (56 Ridgewood Road, Washington Township, NJ). Hope you can join us.