I’m sure you all know the feeling- the immense frustration that stems from knowing an undeniable fact while others insist on seeing things in a false, distorted way. We all know this feeling from when we are very young: when our sister convinces our mother that we hit her first and she is believed, or when the teacher decides you were talking in class and won’t budge from that position. Even over such petty issues that feeling of frustration and injustice is intense. But sometimes the stakes are higher. What do you do, how do you feel, when it’s not just a lollipop or grade in dispute, but your nation, religion, culture, land? I turn on the radio and hear about Israel and my heart aches. I watch videos online where people post comments like ‘Fuck the Jews’ and ‘Hitler should have finished what he started’. Each of these comments hits me like a blow to the chest. I feel like standing up and shouting, “But I don’t even know you! Do you even know a Jew? Any Jew? Or do just believe whatever you read and see and hear? Are you one of the people who still honestly believe that Jews have horns? Would you snatch off my brother’s yarmulke in the street to check?” I want to tell them that they don’t know me; they don’t know my aspirations and my dreams, what I love and what I hate. They don’t know that I don’t hate. Have they been to Israel? Some post their countries with their comments; they cover the globe. Have they seen the beautiful land and people they rail against? I lived there for a year; I saw Arabs, Muslims, Jews and Israelis co-exist in peace. I helped an Arab taxi-driver read his immigrant application to the U.S., and I was helped when an Israeli stranger offered me money when I had none. I saw the other side too. I was part of a lock-down when three terrorists were loose in Jerusalem, and I was there when the massacre at Yeshivas Mercaz Harav Kook took place. I don’t believe that being Arab or Israeli or Muslim or Jewish condemns a person to a life of hate. Because along with the awful, hurtful posts that misrepresent Judaism and twist the Talmud out of context are posts that give me hope. There are the careful, patient, futile posters who calmly and logically refute every point of the hate-filled virtriol that some people spew, and try to show them that data can be twisted two ways. There are those that simply post wishes for peace and an end to war. There are those who make the careful distinctions between Arab and Muslim, Jew and Israeli, and hate neither. There is the self-identified non-Arab Muslim who signs his posts Allah Hafiz / Shalom. I wish with all my heart to go back to Israel, no matter how dangerous. And it *is* dangerous. But it is also one of the most special places on Earth, and the secret of peace is contained within the humanity of its diverse citizens. And so I hope, G-d willing, Inshallah, Im Yirtzeh Hashem, to see you there, in peace.
The Hurt I Feel; The Hope I Have
April 1, 2009