October 18, 2023

Choose life, not death

| A letter from Jerusalem on the Israel – Hamas war

– Avi Schnurr; CEO Electric Infrastructure Security Council

On Saturday morning, Shabbat, October 7, I was with my neighbors, praying in our synagogue near my home in Jerusalem. And this Shabbat was special – Simchat Torah, a day of boundless joy, when prayers are expressed with dancing and singing, with fathers dancing with little children on their shoulders; with young men whirling, prayer cloaks flying, as they dance with the Torah.

 This Shabbat was special – Simchat Torah, a day of boundless joy

Suddenly, it all stopped. Seemingly out of nowhere, a warning siren blared, and a minute later we heard detonations. We were under attack. 

There was no panic: those in the reserves raced out to call their commanders. Mothers and children were sent to bomb shelters, those men who could stayed to finish a very condensed prayer service, and the waiting began. Until that night. That night, when we began to hear what had happened.

We learned that in Israel’s south the dancing had become hopeless fleeing. That babies were torn from their fathers’ shoulders. That the singing ended in blood.

We learned that monsters in human form had come from Gaza, their hearts filled with a different kind of delight: the depraved joy of murder, torture and rape; the twisted, cruel joy of committing unspeakable atrocities to celebrating teens, families, oldsters, children and babies, whose sin is that they are Jews. When I read what they had done, I wept in agony, and in fury.

“The nation of Israel lives!”
| A child’s drawing, taped to a fence in Jerusalem.

Those who sent the monsters remained in hiding in Gaza – not to protect their people, but to bloody them. To use them as human shields, so that when the Jews come for Hamas, they will have little alternative to fighting through communities filled with civilians, creating the tragic PR images that Hamas craves. Hamas, which blocked their people’s evacuation to south Gaza before battle. Hamas, which praised Egypt for closing their people’s escape route through Egypt. 

This message will be brief, but I want it to be clear. The time when our world could sustain such acts is over. We all must choose.

There was a time when evil on this scale could occur somewhere on a diverse planet, and the impact on distant nations would be minimal. Those days are now over. Our world has become tightly interconnected – with economies, supply chains, commercial institutions and the financial, transportation and communication systems that connect them now all tightly interdependent. Humankind in the early 21st century has become analogous to an organism. Catastrophes like this injure the organism, and can metastasize, as the Biden administration very properly fears. 

There is one hope, and only one.

There is one hope, and only one. We all must choose. Either life, or death. And choosing life means ensuring that monsters whose delight, whose currency and whose hope is death must be stopped – quickly, and permanently.

It is far too late to temporize. It is time to choose. 

An Author infinitely more eloquent than me delivered this message to humanity more than 3200 years ago.  

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. 

Choose life!”


1* Deuteronomy 30:15, 19

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