I rarely write about Israel. This is not because I am ambivalent or uninterested. Quite the opposite. I think about making aliyah a lot, and wonder if I could really do it at my rapidly advancing age. I used to think I would, but these days reality sets in and I think it might just be out of reach...at least for the moment. But I have a close friend there, and even some family, including one little cousin who is currently serving in the IDF. And if you think I don't worry about that kid along with all the other kids, you have another think coming.
But uninterested? Hardly. I follow news out the Middle East with great alarm these days. I am passionate…somewhat unreasonably so…on the subject. But like so many others, I am also conflicted. I do not particularly like Bibi Netanyahu.... but I don't get a vote on that one. I do not pretend to understand the building policies in and around Jerusalem....and I wonder if anyone there does, either. I don't understand the haredi and their obscene hatred for the rest of us...as if the concept of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, wasn't said to be the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. And while we're on the subject of The Temple in Jerusalem, how is it that the everyone is in agreement that the Mosque of Omar and Al-Aqsa Mosque sit side by side on The Temple Mount...as in the original Temple....as in the Temple that predates both Christianity and Islam....yet they say Jews don't belong in Jerusalem. These are great conundrums and I don't see anyone coming forward with any answers....especially the BDS people who have embraced revisionist history like some people embrace Creationism. I think they're about the same on the reality scale....somewhere between zero and one.
But this past week has put me over the edge. The kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers is unbelievably horrifying from so many perspectives, yet not unexpected. This is not the first time Israeli kids have been murdered and I fear it will not be the last. But the revenge murder of a Palestinian teenager is beyond comprehension. The kid was, according to the latest reports, burned alive. How did this happen? Who would sanction such an act? This is a whole new level of barbarism. It is so NOT who we are that Bibi has called the family of this child.
Which makes me think....did Abbas call the parents of the murdered Israeli kids? Not that it matters.
Across Israel, there is such an outcry over the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Rabbis across the spectrum have condemned that action. Yet somewhere in there is a small group extreme right wingnuts chanting "Death to Arabs." After years of homicide bombings, missiles, kidnappings, murders is it such a shock that there is a group ready to retaliate in kind?
In any other country, maybe. But in Israel, this is anathema. BIG TIME anathema.
Israel is a nation where restraint has been the rule, not the exception. Yes, there are acts of incursion and retaliation, but Israelis do not set off bombs in cafes and buses. They do not preach the wholesale destruction of Palestinians from every pulpit, or teach it in the schools or in their children's television shows. No, they are not perfect and there is much to say about the destruction of housing and olive groves. But there is much more to say about a government that hides its missile launchers atop hospitals, schools, and in residential neighborhoods then fires at school yards and factories.But terrorists are terrorists no matter which side, and those found to be responsible for the death of Muhammed Abu Khdeir should be treated the same way Palestinian terrorists are treated. There can be no difference.
Still, I wonder what those vocal critics of Israel’s policies would do living under the conditions Israelis endure in their own land. Would they stand by and allow missiles to be fired at their children? Would they just pack up and leave the land in which they lived for three millennia in favor of a group that did not exist as a national entity until the 19th century? Where would they go?
Let's be clear about one thing: Jews are not newcomers to Israel. We have been an identifiable social/cultural/national group since the word ISRAEL first appeared on the Merneptah Stele, circa 1200 B.C.E…which means, amongst other things, Jews have been on the land for more than 3000 years, almost 2000 of those years living under the oppressive rule of foreigners but never abandoning Jerusalem, the land, or the fervent belief that we would one day be our own nation once again. I have to imagine the native American population must harbor the same dream. After all, their land was taken, they were removed, relocated, restricted, but never left, either. I think sometimes we have more in common with those nations than we do with anyone else.
What would happen if all the women stood up and said, "NO MORE!" ? Would the insanity stop? Would there be quiet long enough to untangle the hatred and begin the healing?
The cycle of hatred must stop. The Israelis must stop antagonizing the peace process. The Palestinians must stop teaching hate in their schools. The G-d of Abraham, that G-d both Judaism and Islam share, abhors human sacrifice. No more children should be sacrificed on the altar of hatred that has nothing whatsoever to do with G-d.
In my very limited world view, it keeps coming down to the one idea…the same idea that Golda Meir so eloquently said,
“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי
תִּדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנִי לְחִכִּי אִם לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי
אִם לֹא אַעֲלֶה אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי:
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither
May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not bring up Jerusalem at the beginning of my joy.
circa 607 B.C.E.