Over the weekend, I attended a bat mitzvah during which the presiding rabbi had the unenviable task of leading what should be a joyous event during a time of deep mourning. During the ceremony, she described a Jewish teaching that explains if a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet at an intersection and one has to go first, the wedding takes the lead. This Talmudic lesson is meant to demonstrate that even in times of extreme sadness and mourning, we need to make room for life and joy. The teaching is right of course. There are times when joy and laughter can be acts of defiance, and any child stepping to the bema to read from the torah for the first time deserves, at least for a moment, to be shielded from the hate and ugliness of another of history’s sad moments. So we let the joy have the right of way during the bat mitzvah, but once it was over, we went back to mourning. Mourning for the dead and the kidnapped, so many of whom were working for peace and a two-state solution. Mourning for the fact that even an act of unbridled barbarism can’t be mourned by Jews without a, Yeah but… Given that they tortured, raped, and killed innocent people from the elderly to babies, and that they specifically targeted children at school, knowing full well the attack would drive a response resulting in countless deaths of their own people who they’ve done nothing to protect and who they use as human shields, one would assume it would be Hamas whose morals were being most vociferously called into question. Yeah but… Mourning the fact that we’re being led into a broader conflict by Netanyahu’s government that was so fixated on destroying Israel’s democracy from the inside that it left the country vulnerable to threats from the outside. And, yes, of course, mourning the loss of innocent Palestinian civilians, who have been the region’s pawns and victims for far too long. If a joyous procession and funeral procession come to an intersection, we’re taught to let the joyous one proceed. But maybe it’s just a simple matter of traffic, since the funeral procession is lined up as far as the eye can see.

+ In the NYT, Tom Friedman does a good job explaining the latest twists in the conflict, why many Israelis feel even more conflicted due to the Netanyahu government, and why Hamas acted now. (Hint, it wasn’t to promote peace in the Middle East. It was to prevent it.) “The bigger reason it acted now, which Hamas won’t admit, is that it saw how Israel was being more accepted by the Arab world and soon possibly by the birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia … Israel has suffered a staggering blow and is now forced into a morally impossible war to outcrazy Hamas and deter Iran and Hezbollah at the same time. I weep for the terrible deaths that now await so many good Israelis and Palestinians. And I also worry deeply about the Israeli war plan. It is one thing to deter Hezbollah and deter Hamas. It is quite another to replace Hamas and leave behind something more stable and decent. But what to do?” NYT (Gift Article): Why Israel Is Acting This Way. “Finally, though, just as I stand today with Israel’s new unity government in its fight against Hamas to save Israel’s body, I will stand after this war with Israel’s democracy defenders against those who tried to abduct Israel’s soul.”

+ “Hamas wasn’t being pacified; it was preparing. The group was less committed to national liberation than to Jewish elimination. Its violence was rooted not in strategy, but in sadism … What Hamas did was not out of character, but rather the explicit fulfillment of its long-stated objectives. The shocking thing was not just the atrocity itself, but that so many people were shocked by it.” Yair Rosenberg in The Atlantic (Gift Article): What Hamas Wants.

+ You can support the Palestinians and be in favor of a two-state solution. Unlike Hamas, many, many of those killed and kidnapped held that position. But, really, you can’t be pro-Hamas. Noam Bardin with his latest update from Israel (and what his daughters are experiencing back in the US on college campuses). There are no Hollywood endings in the Middle East.

+ “I’m in this endless loop of hope and despair, hope and despair. I need some proof of life. I need to know where my wife and daughter are. It’s driving me crazy.” There are 199 known hostages being held by Hamas. NYT (Gift Article): For Hostages’ Families, an ‘Endless Loop of Hope and Despair.’

+ Vanity Fair: Sealed Off and Under Siege, Gaza Journalists Bear Witness for the World.

+ Blinken continues his tour of the Middle East, the US is working to keep the fighting from spreading, Gaza hospitals ration water as crisis mounts, Israelis are evacuating northern cities as Hezbollah strikes, food shortages hit Gaza as negotiations to open a escape route into Egypt await a breakthrough. Here’s the latest from CNN, BBC, and AP.