It seems like the overarching story will run and run.
As the UK’s Jewish Chronicle uncovers incident after incident of Jewish individuals and organisations ‘fraternizing with the enemy’, the mutterings in opposition to its stance grow louder and louder. You can almost see the two sides drawing their swords, shaping up for battle, determined to prove at all costs the objective truth of their position.
I don’t think this is going to end well.
Perhaps, fundamentally, the issue is about the extent to which we view the world with suspicion or trust. To Full Post
First appeared in Jewish People, Jewish Texts, Jewish Homeland.
Jonathan Boyd is the Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research
Sometimes it is just too hard to hold back the tears. Like during the unetaneh tokef of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when contemplating the simple words “who will live and who will die; who at their predestined time and who not at their predestined time” and trying to come to terms with our extraordinary vulnerability. Or while singing hayom harat olam after hearing the blasts of the shofar on Rosh Hashana – “today is the day of the world’s creation” – and trying to behold just how beautiful our world can sometimes be. Or when watching our young children’s sheer delight on entering the sukkah for the first time and seeing the world for an all too brief moment through their eyes.
And then there is Gilad Shalit’s release. It’s impossible to imagine what he has endured for the past five years and four months since his capture. It seems that he was treated well and has returned in good physical health, but the psychological scars inflicted by living in near solitary confinement and in the knowledge that his life hung in the balance every single moment are just too much to contemplate. What his parents must have been through too is simply unimaginable – to have your own child taken away from you in that way and to live with the constant possibility of tragic news is too horrendous for words. I could not hold back the tears this morning upon hearing the news that he had been safely released; I have never met him or any members of his family, but the relief and gratitude I feel upon his return overwhelms every other emotion. Gilad Shalit is free.
“Let me get this straight: Israel just killed humanitarian workers in international waters, and the author has the nerve to call that provocation? Unbelievable.”
So writes one individual in response to one of the many journalistic attempts to defend Israel’s position in the recent Gaza flotilla affair.
Let’s be clear: we are losing the PR battle. Badly. Read the international press, read the talkbacks all over the Internet, witness the worldwide demonstrations, listen to international government statements, watch the TV coverage. It all points in one clear direction: Israel is either becoming, or has already become, morally bankrupt.
Today, January 6, is asarah b’tevet – the 10th of Tevet – the day, according to tradition, that the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar began his siege of Jerusalem, an act which ultimately ended in the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the first exile. We still mourn this chapter from our past; it is a sad and desperate moment in the Jewish year when it is difficult not to feel drawn into the pessimism and tragedy of this and other similar episodes in Jewish history. And when that pessimism is fused together with the images from Gaza that are flooding our television screens, it becomes even harder not to despair. Despair for the Israelis who have had to live for so long with the almost daily missile attacks from Gaza, and despair for the Palestinian civilians whose lives have been decimated by the sheer force of Israel’s military action.
It is surely impossible to be an authentic Jew and to fail to be impacted by the suffering of the Palestinian people, and I fear for those of us whose hearts remain hardened to the TV images. To quote a well-known midrash, we do not sing when our enemies are drowning. Nevertheless, I stand alongside Israel in this conflict – I understand its conundrum, its fears, its motivations and its actions – and I maintain my long-held belief that when it goes to war, it surely does so far more out of necessity than desire.