A Lesson We Can All Learn From Pesach

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Last year, at our Seder, the Haggada was a little bit different than the one we had the year before. Every year, when our family and friends gather for the celebration of the Exodus from Egypt, our Haggada (the story of the Exodus and its teachings) is slightly different. Every year the teachings emphasized in the Haggada are different. This last year our Haggada emphasized the importance of learning from our past. In this case it meant learning from our oppression by the Egyptians and how that experience should lead us to act in our own lives. It told us that we should remember that the Hebrews and Jews have been enslaved, oppressed and occupied, not only in Egypt, but throughout our history. It taught us to learn from that past.

We tend to think of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as one sided. We, in America, and in Israel, are mostly blind to the fact that Palestinians live in abject poverty and fear, all due to the oppressive nature of Israeli policy towards the occupied territories. When it comes to Israel and the question of the two-state solution, people in America (and in Israel) rationalize the brutality, oppressiveness and injustice of Israeli policy through the lens of the Holocaust.

Israeli politics have been hijacked by the radical Orthodoxy. This Orthodoxy believes that all Palestine must be home to Jews, and only Jews. This is the attitude that makes Israelis and Jews hated and despised. Have we not learned that our rhetoric and actions are causing the suicide bombers and rocket attacks? Israeli ignorance and intolerance has led to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the barricades and roadblocks, incursions, arrests, air strikes, beatings and shootings of, into, and on Palestinians and Palestine.

And Israel gets away with it by playing the 'holocaust card.' Enough!

Are victims somehow immune to social immorality? Cannot victims beget victims? I don't think so! So, what makes Israel so special? Have we not learned anything from the Holocaust? We Jews and Israelis cry 'never again' to justify our actions. But this is such hypocrisy. We cry 'never again' but we are ghettoing the Palestinians; we are stripping away their rights, their dignity and their lives and their humanity.

Israel confines the Palestinian population to a small strip of land on the coast and to the mostly unfertile land of the West Bank. Gaza is denied food aid, medical supplies, gas or water. The Palestinians are denied civil rights; they are subjected to more strict laws and are confined to the occupied territories with massive concrete walls and barbed wire. Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers shoot civilians first and then never ask questions. What about the eight-year-old boy that was shot dead by the IDF because he was playing with a toy gun? Did anyone ask why? There is n justifiable reason to treat the Palestinians in such ways. The Right claims it is all done in the name of national security. Ironically, it is the occupation, the walls and the checkpoints that make Israel all the more dangerous. We are the cause of our own insecurity. We must be better people. We must.

During Pesach we promise God that we will not forget the oppression of the Hebrews by the Egyptians. In doing so, we promise God that we will not be oppressors ourselves. During the Seder the youngest asks us: 'Why is this night different from all other nights?' Why on this night do we promise to never oppress, but on all other nights do we continue to oppress without question or thought?

We Jews and Israelis owe it to our future generations to create peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We cannot leave our children and grandchildren this horrific mess. We must try to leave this world just a little bit better than how it was when we came into it. What is wrong with dialogue? What is wrong with peace? For all that we have seen in our three thousand year history are we no better than every one that has hated us? We have seen such horrors and yet it seems like we have learned nothing. What happened to our dignity, our honor, our religion?

'Next year in Jerusalem;' perhaps we will all live peacefully together, Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

peaceplease said...
Jun. 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm
I totally agree, I wish more people were like us, and I wish Fox news and CNN wasn't so biased. And you're a dope writer. I love it.
 
peaceplease replied...
Jun. 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm
*weren't, sorry
 
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