President’s Message

It’s your living room and
with your most precious
furniture and china on
display, the grandkids are
on the floor, you are in
the room and so is your guest which
happens to be a live elephant. You want to
be hospitable but are very nervous. You
don’t want to offend and you don’t want to
be offended. It’s a source of discomfort but
let’s talk about that elephant in the
room. The elephant is Gaza.

An important item on my bucket list is to
spend time in a Kibbutz. I absolutely love
the sense of community, the village rearing
of kids, respect for equality, the wonderful
farming, the openness to all, and was
appalled when on October 7 I learned of
how Hamas attacked and massacred these
precious communities as well as the kids at
the concert, and they indiscriminately
butchered women, holocaust survivors, the
disabled, and also kidnapped 250
individuals. Also, when I learned that Hamas
covenant includes to “obliterate” Isarael.
After this, Israel’s immediate reaction was,
to me, totally understandable.

As of today, Jan. 20, a total of 25,105
Palestinians have been killed of which 40%
are women and children, and 62,281 have
been wounded. Gaza’s buildings, hospitals,
churches and mosques, historic buildings,
factories, schools, storage facilities, refugee
camps, electrical networks, 60% of private
homes have been obliterated. This situation
places us in a unique predicament because
this is not a case where we are observing
Russia and Ukraine or Chinese and the
Uyghurs, it is us and Israel versus Palestine.

This dilemma has spurred many questions
• Can we continue this support indefinitely?
• Will it expand to other wars?
• Who benefits from the destruction, and how?
• Can the eradication of buildings, women, children, infrastructure eliminate Hamas?
• Will the effect of this destruction on Palestinians and their supporters lead to future 9/11s here?
• Can we support our friends but limit the degree to which they defend themselves?

In spite of our many differences, what we, as UUs, do have in common is the commitment to promoting “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.” And we are inclined to advocate for peace and harmony. We are a community committed to respecting and serving each other. We aim to make a positive difference in our world.

We join to celebrate life, nurture one another, and help heal our world. In the midst of this all, a glimmer of hope occurred when both sides agreed on a pause for prisoner exchange and an increase in delivery of goods and medicines. The key cause was a dialogue between both sides and agreement on an outcome for which each side benefits.

The history of conflicts also shows that communication between both sides is essential for conflicts to end, and when opposing views are understood and acknowledged, the doors to progress are opened. A key element to facilitate peace therefore is understanding the other side. We have received extensive coverage through TV, printed and social media. Here are some sources that help in understanding the perspective of each side. Some are clearly biased but at least they aid in listening to the other side.

ISRAELI PERSPECTIVE￾operation-swords-of-iron-1-18-24/￾denounces-u-n-referral-of-israel-to-icj-are￾no-palestinian-actions-deserving-of￾scrutiny/

PALESTINIAN PERSPECTIVE￾palestine-conflict/￾occupied-palestine-and￾israel#:~:text=Hostilities%20in%Gaza%20an

Understanding the big picture does help. The elephant in the room is huge and difficult for us as a nation. It is also difficult for us on a personal level. Processing this and openly communicating about it is needed, and in our congregation, you are entitled to what you feel and what you think, and it will be respected.

Our leadership at the Unitarian Universalist Association has joined with many other religions organizations and written statements urging ceasefire and the protection of human life. Our Rock Tavern congregation has joined UU Poughkeepsie and UU Catskills in cosponsoring the January 28 Teach in on Israel/Gaza in Rhinebeck hosted by Jewish Voices for Peace and other organizations that are striving to facilitate peace and justice. On February 4 after the service and potluck, Rev Diane and I will host a caring circle for all interested to communicate about this subject and support each other. Let’s talk about the elephant.
-Markly Wilson