Everything is politics. We know this, we live this, but still we are disappointed when the immediate reaction to tragedy is to appoint blame and inflame passions.
Unfortunately, mere moments after news broke of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers last Thursday night, the finger pointing became a blood sport. Some blamed the yeshiva for not providing transportation for the teens, others the teens themselves for venturing out on their own in a dangerous area. Israeli politicians were swift to blame Hamas, or implicate the Palestinian Authority, when Israeli security personnel were still unsure whether the abductions were organized or spontaneous. Some on the Left blamed “the occupation” itself, all but condoning the targeting of civilians by terrorists. And some on the Right turned to the worst kind of Holocaust analogies in blaming the entire state of affairs on the U.S. government.
And yet, at moments like these, we yearn to still the chatter, the score-settling, and the opportunism and think about the children, the parents, and a country brought together by tragedy. We turn to prayer, some to ask for a miracle, some to quiet their own troubled minds, and most to express their solidarity with the people of Israel and the families of these kidnapped teenagers. We pray that Israel will bring its boys home safely and that it will find and punish the perpetrators with the least amount of military, political, and humanitarian fallout. And we pray that the Palestinians work with Israel in finding the boys and embracing peace, and reject those who encourage or direct terrorism.
There is a time for politics, and there is a time to open our hearts to those in distress. And so we pause to pray for the abducted young men, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, and for their safe return to their families and loved ones who fear for their lives.