In the June  edition of Jewish Rhode Island, Moses Twersky published an op-ed “Israel has nothing to apologize for.” I find his arguments baseless and unconscionable, but I am inclined to agree with his conclusion: Israel should not apologize for what it has done to Palestinians.
Apologies are useful insofar as they soothe hurt feelings and mend relationships. The treatment to which Israel has subjected Palestinians has not hurt feelings; it has destroyed lives. During May’s Operation Guardians of the Walls, Israeli bombs killed 122 Palestinian civilians in Gaza and wounded nearly 2,000. An apology cannot bring back the dead or heal the wounded, nor can it rebuild destroyed homes and infrastructure. It cannot restore Gaza’s 17 damaged hospitals and medical clinics, re-home the 91,000 Gazans forced to flee, or provide clean water to the 250,000 people who relied on a now-disconnected desalination plant. In the face of such violence and destruction, an apology would be meaningless.
While you may not agree with me, Mr. Twersky, Jewish tradition does. Jewish texts teach us, time and again, that the sanctity of life supersedes all else. Whether or not you respect their national identity, political ideology, or land claims, the 122 Gazan civilians killed during Operation Guardians of the Walls led lives that were just as holy as mine or yours.
In Jewish tradition, teshuvah cannot be achieved with a simple apology. A sinner must do much more in order to repent. One must forsake the sin, consider its future consequences, modify one’s behavior and teach others not to sin. The message is clear: Israel owes Palestinians change and justice, not empty words.
Claire Davidson Miller
Brown Class of 2021
Miller works for Americans for Peace Now [peacenow.org], the sister organization to Israel’s Peace Now movement.