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October 6, 2015 / 23 Tishri, 5776
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An American Rabbi’s Prayer for Palestinian Dead

Peter Beinart asks that American rabbis lead prayers for Palestinian dead. JoeSettler agrees with Beinart...
An IDF soldier is taken to the hospital after an attack from Gaza. (archive)

An IDF soldier is taken to the hospital after an attack from Gaza. (archive)
Photo Credit: Dudu Greenspan / Flash 90

I find myself agreeing with a Facebook post by Peter Beinart.

Beinart is worried that American Jewry are becoming desensitized to events in the Middle East and going morally numb. He blames American Rabbis for playing a significant role in that happening.

With so many Reform Jews not supporting Israel, Beinart’s observation on American Jewry is clearly right.

Peter’s solution is that congregational Rabbis, just like they pray for our Jewish injured and dead, should also pray for the Palestinian dead, naming each one, however many that might be.

As Peter Beinart posted on Facebook:

Peter Beinart
No Israelis have yet been killed in the latest round of Hamas rocket fire, thank God. But if one did, I suspect that many American rabbis would–rightly–mention his or her name this Shabbat. I don’t know how many Palestinians have died in Gaza, but it’s in the dozens, including quite a few children. So why can’t our rabbis–who often tell us that Judaism values life above all else–mention their names? I’m not suggesting that our rabbis denounce Israel’s behavior. That’s a separate question. In fact, it’s precisely because many American rabbis will defend Israel’s actions that they should read out the names and ages of the Palestinians who have died. If you’re going to defend war, then at least be honest about what you’re defending. Don’t perpetuate the mass desensitization to Palestinian suffering and death that characterizes mainstream American Jewish life. Tell your congregants that the world in general–and the Middle East in particular–is a tragic place, filled with awful choices. But don’t keep the people you lead morally numb.

Now, I’m not going to take Beinart to task for not differentiating between Palestinian combatants and civilians, not that I’m sure that he meant to.

I’m not going to take Beinart to task for not asking people to name all the Iraqi and Afghani citizens killed in US air strikes, as that would simply take too long. But I do find it telling that Beinart gives priority to those killed in wars against Israel, and not to those killed in wars with America.

Nor am I going to take Beinart to task for ignoring the collective responsibility of Gaza’s citizens, 60% of whom voted for Hamas in their last election a decade ago, knowing full well what Hamas was, as well as their stated goal of eliminating the Jewish state.


Because I suspect, like most liberals, he probably doesn’t give much weight to society’s collective responsibility for their actions and decisions, except when it comes to Jews and Israel.

But ultimately Beinart is right.

American rabbis must say a prayer for the dead in Gaza, so that American Jews don’t become desensitized to events and suffering in the Middle East and ultimately morally numb.

Here is the prayer I recommend be said in American synagogues, right after they say the prayer for Israel’s injured and dead – as we still can’t ignore that Judaism dictates that we give charity, concern and priority to our own family first – even as Beinart did in his own way, by giving priority to Palestinians over Iraqis and Afghanis.

A Prayer for the Palestinian Dead

God of Abraham, Joshua, Gideon, David, and Devorah, may you grant the IDF victory over our enemies in Gaza.

May Hamas weapon stockpiles be destroyed, and may all the Hamas leadership, their supporters and the terrorists in the fields be eradicated and killed.

We pray that no more innocent civilians, such as Ahmed and Mohammed, ages 0-99, be murdered by Hamas, as Hamas cynically and evilly use their own citizens and children as Human Shields.

We pray that Israel’s targeted strikes succeed, and destroys the weapon launchers, infrastructure, terror tunnels and weapon stockpiles hidden under homes, hospitals, mosques and schools, and that no innocent civilians be injured or killed in those targeted strikes, if possible.

We pray that Gaza’s citizens discover that supporting Hamas, as well as cheering, praying and working towards Israel’s and the Jewish people’s destruction is morally wrong and evil.

We pray they repent and mend their ways, before their children grow up filled up with hatred for Jews, brainwashed by Hamas and Fatah in their school systems, summer camps and television programs.

We pray the same for those under Palestinian Authority control in Judea and Samaria.

Now let us say, Amen.

About the Author: JoeSettler blogs at The Muqata.blogspot.com and occasionally on his own blog at JoeSettler.blogspot.com.

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