As the New Year begins, I want to be candid and straightforward. The following statements are mine and mine alone.  With that stated, let me start by saying the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East need to stop now—not a ceasefire for a brief period—but an all-out conclusion to the bloodshed that has massacred hundreds of thousands of people.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an illegal invasion of Ukraine, over 10,000 civilians have been killed, including more than 560 children. Moreover, over 18,500 civilians have been injured.

Earlier in 2023, the New York Times reported that the number of Ukrainian and Russian troops killed or wounded reached 500,000. United States officials warn these numbers are possibly inaccurate, citing Russia’s propensity for undercounting their war dead and injured.

Further south, the war in the Middle East continues to escalate after Hamas brutally attacked Israeli civilians, killing approximately 1,200 and kidnapping over 240 on October 7, 2023. In response, Israel has killed over 20,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

In addition to rising death tolls, 85% of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are displaced. The displacement has led to 500,000 Palestinians facing starvation (That is one out of every four people in Gaza.).

The words of the psalmist ring loud and clear, “Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (120:6-7).

Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to immediately withdraw troops from Ukraine and abandon his illegal invasion of a sovereign country.  Far too many Ukrainians and Russians have perished due to his goal for a new Russian Empire.

The world needs to remain firm in supporting Ukraine, but also to ratchet up the pressure on Putin to withdraw his troops. The time for this war to end is now. While the world knows this to be true, it will take brave Russians to demand its end.

In the Middle East, the war is more complicated due to the severe attacks by Hamas.  However, while the attack warranted a response from Israel, the Israeli government has overreached as tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens (many of whom are women and children) have died from the extensive bombing campaign in Gaza.

As an ally of the Jewish people and supporter of Israel’s right to exist, I can also hold a position that the current situation has deteriorated from justice to annihilation. The Israeli government needs to stop the bombing of Palestinian territories immediately.

The Israeli Defense Forces have proven they cannot conduct large-scale bombings without killing thousands of civilians.  The Israeli government can continue seeking the release of hostages and bring Hamas to justice without killing innocent citizens.  The war must stop, as everyone everywhere must find better angels within them.

On March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln appealed to a country fractured and werry of war, “With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Forty-one days after Lincoln delivered those words to a divided and lamenting country, an assassin killed the president while sitting in Ford’s Theater. Oh, how we humans always gravitate to violence while our better angels seek peace.

The author of Proverbs wrote, “When the ways of people please the Lord, he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them” (16:7).

May it be so.

Share This