A friend of a friend posted the following message on Facebook. I skimmed through it quickly at first and shook my head saying “She’s wrong, she’s wrong, she’s wrong!” And then I was going to discard it.
Something took me back for a second look, a slower read.
Instead of trying to “educate” this young Zionist Jew, and respond to her inaccuracies, I wanted to feel her pain and anger. She has a lot of both.
Please read her words, not with judgment or criticism, but with care and concern. She obviously can’t hear the pain or anger of the Palestinians in Gaza today, or the frustration of the activists who are supporting the Palestinians, but perhaps we can hear her.
I am sick and tired of having to defend my right to be alive. The world stood by silently as 1/3 of the Jewish world population was systemically exterminated during the Holocaust. Not because they didn’t know what was happening. It was because they did not care. Israel was created because Jews realized that if ever a people would try and finish the job, the world would again be silent. It’s happening now. Jews worldwide are under attack. Do me a favor friends, IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING ISRAEL IS DOING RIGHT NOW TO DEFEND ITSELF AND THE JEWISH (AND ARAB) POPULATION THAT LIVES THERE, PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR LIST OF FRIENDS BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT TO SEE OR HEAR ANY OF YOUR MISGUIDED, MISINFORMED, ANTISEMITIC BULLSHIT ANYMORE. ANYONE WHO THINKS ISRAEL IS A WAR CRIMINAL IS AN ANTISEMITE AND THERE IS NO REASON FOR US TO BE FRIENDS. BE IT ON FACEBOOK OR REAL LIFE.
There are 15 million Jews in the world. That is 0.2% of the world population. Yes, less than 1 fucking percent of the whole world is Jewish. If you don’t think that such a small number of people need a place to call their own, especially given our history, and especially since there are people everywhere, right now, again calling for our extermination, and that we need to do everything and anything to protect it, then you hate Jews and you hate Israel and by extension, you hate me. Please, let’s not be friends.”
Your words very clearly express your pain and anger. I think I hear your fear too.
I’m not going to respond to the facts you shared about the Holocaust, the world’s criticism directed at the State of Israel today or Israel’s right to defend herself. But I hear you!
I’m not going to explain who the Palestinians are, or their history, or their right to resist the occupation. I don’t think you would hear me.
I’m just going to tell you a story about a young man who attended a Passover Seder in my community (Albuquerque, NM) about 10 years ago. As we were reciting the haggadah, someone asked “why are Jews God’s ‘Chosen People’?”
This young man was probably 17 or 18 years old at the time, but very wise for his young age. He immediately chimed in and said “Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ because God chose them to teach the rest of the world how to live with our neighbors.”
That’s a powerful message!
If it’s true, if Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ to teach us how to get along and live as neighbors, then how should the State of Israel (and Jews everywhere) share that lesson with the world?
- By “unfriending” anyone on Facebook who disagrees with our point of view?
- By only hanging out with people who think the way we do? Pray the way we pray?
- By demonizing and killing hundreds of people we have never met (such as the Palestinians in Gaza)?
- By building a wall between us and our neighbors so we can’t see each other, talk with each other, visit with each other?
You’re still living with the horror of the Holocaust but the Palestinians weren’t responsible for that nightmare.
I suspect you’ve never met a Palestinian or talked with a Palestinian.
If that young man at the Passover Seder was right, and God’s Chosen People are here to teach us all how to live with our neighbors, how can Jews help us live together? That young man at the Passover Seder is a Palestinian from Gaza, but I’m not sure whether he’s still alive.
I’m told that the Golden Rule is in the Torah, just as it’s in the Bible and Quran. Can the Golden Rule help heal your pain and fear?
Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: “Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.” – Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a
Your Facebook message ends with a fear that I hate you.
“If you don’t think that such a small number of people need a place to call their own, especially given our history, and especially since there are people everywhere, right now, again calling for our extermination, and that we need to do everything and anything to protect it, then you hate Jews and you hate Israel and by extension, you hate me. Please, let’s not be friends.”
I don’t hate Jews, I don’t hate Israel, and I don’t hate you. I want to learn how to live together as neighbors respecting the Golden Rule.