|ďItís a difficult challenge to be rabbis at this moment in our history. Virulent anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head across throughout the Muslim world. Jews are being blamed for everything from the poverty of Afghanistan to the destruction of the World Trade Center. Fear continues to erode what vague sense of security and safety our community still might feel, and in our names America continues to drop hundreds of bombs that inevitably take the lives of innocent, suffering women and children in their wake.
Even though I have written an article for LA Family Magazine taking the position that there are times when it is a moral imperative to kill another for the sake of a greater human good, I keep wondering what our world would be like if America invested half as much to alleviate human misery and suffering as we are each day in the bombs and destruction.
I canít forget that thought some 6,000 people perished in the September 11th attacks, 35,000 children across the world died of hunger that same day. Another 35,000 died on the 12th, and the 13th, and every day since as well, while we feed 80% of our grain harvest to livestock.
I canít forget that one billion people worldwide struggle to survive on $1 a day, over one billion lack access to safe drinking water and 3 billion have inadequate access to sanitation.
The presence of such abject poverty should be taken as an insult to the face of the divine within every human being. How can the billions of have-nots who daily have access to worldwide telecommunications not feel a rising sense of rage and despair at the West and any others who seem rich and powerful?
What would happen if instead of spending $100 billion on our military response in Afghanistan, we spent the paltry $9 billion the UN estimated is necessary to provide clean water and sanitation for everyone on earth? Or the $12 billion to cover reproductive health services for all women worldwide? Or the $13 billion needed to provide every person on earth with enough food and basic health care? And a mere $6 billion more would provide basic education for all as well.
All of these desperate human needs add up to only $40 billion, a fifth of what the US government agreed in October to pay Lockheed to build new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jets.
Perhaps it is time for us to add our prophetic voices to our calls for retribution and justice. For justice comes in many forms. Let us begin to imagine a world in which the image of America abroad is undeniably that of the country who used its vast resources to transform the world from hunger to sustenance, from poverty to plenty, from tragedy to the triumph of the human spirit.
It was Benjamin Franklin who once said that he believed the real destiny of America would not be about power; it would be about light. Just as we Jews have been challenged by God from the moment we brought the Torah into the world to ďbe a light unto the nations,Ē so, too it is our task to transform America into that beacon of light to a spiritually and physically hungering world as well.