Rabbi advocates peace building

Published on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 22:56 - Written by REBECCA HOEFFNER rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Rabbi Neal Katz, of Congregation Beth El in Tyler, has been in Israel during the recent violence, and gave his perspective on what it will take to make the situation better.

“There are peacemakers — the politicians, the diplomats — but what happens if they sign a treaty tomorrow?” he said. “What we need are peacebuilders; people who are in the schools, in the community, getting ordinary Palestinians and Israelis to meet one another. Peace building is just as important as peacemaking.”

On Tuesday, Katz participated with a group of hundreds of peace activists who paid their respects to the family of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager who was beaten, burned and murdered last week.

The teen’s death is believed to be an act of retaliation by Jewish extremists for the killing of three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gil-ad Shaar, who were abducted in early June, according to news reports.

“It was a watershed moment in Israel,” Katz said of the meeting. “(We went because) Judaism as a religion believes in corporate guilt. It was the ultimate example of ambassadorship. It was the right thing to do.”

But for now, Katz believes the way that Israel is going to be most secure is by maintaining the “status quo.” That means using the country’s state-of-the-art defense system and striking back at Hamas when Israel is attacked, he said.

Unfortunately Hamas shoots from the tops of hospitals and other places where a retaliatory strike will have civilian casualties, Katz said.

Most Israelis are confident in the country’s defense system, he said.

“All Israel cares about is protecting its people,” he said.