Priceless Light: Responding to the Killings of Ali Saad Dawabshe and Shira Banki

An infant and a sixteen year old. One just a sliver of light with the promise to grow. One shining with the light of youth, passion and a desire to repair the world. A Palestinian Muslim and a Jewish Israeli. Shira Banki was stabbed along with five other participants in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade by a man who believed that the cause she supported was an abomination. Ali Saad Dawabshe was immolated in a vicious arson attack on his home in the village of Duma by men seeking to terrorize Palestinians. Both were killed by Jews acting in the name of Judaism.

The attack in Duma was a deadly expression of what has been called the "price tag" -- a way of showing those who would make efforts for peace that the price exacted will be steep. However, there is no price that can be put on a human life. No tag that simply attends a moment of violence whether done out of calculation or blind hatred. Those who visited terror on Ali Saad Dawabshe ripped a hole in the fabric of life. Destroyed countless lives. Rendered themselves and their tutors who taught them liable for recompense.

In the streets of Jerusalem, the attacker also drew from sources of hate and uncompromising condemnation. Sources that justify or at least mitigate acts against people who are seen as causing desecration just as other sources point to a lesser value for the lives and livelihood of those who are not Jewish.

In the wake of these travesties a wider spectrum have spoken against the attacks, including the Chief Rabbi of Israel and other figures in the orthodox world. However to protest against the terror in Duma and at the Pride Parade must go beyond the singular events. We must also clearly state that for the Torah to be a source of wisdom and not cruelty it must include all human beings as fully created with inviolable and infinite dignity. Jews and non jews, Christians and Muslims, all regardless of how they love or live.

Just as the full moon rose to dispel the darkness of Tisha B'Av, the we set fire to the Holiest of Holies. For victims of terror we sometimes say may G*d avenge their blood. These stark words are not ultimately a call violent revenge but a plea that the forces that seek destruction will be pulled up from their root. Only G*d can decide, as it were, what form that uprooting will take. May the memories of Shira Banki and Ali Saad Dawabshe be a blessing and comfort come in time to the bereft. May their killings be avenged by a new light and may the sources in all faiths that nourish hatred be transformed into reminders that we are all illuminated by the light of G*d.