Saturday, February 04, 2006

Psalm 133:1

The events of this past week in Israel were incredibly difficult to handle. The non-stop photographs and videos of Jew on Jew violence in Amuna was excruciatingly difficult to watch. This was not like what happened in (G)Aza, where most of the settlements were evacuated peacefully with protestors and soldiers crying together. This was Jew on Jew violence, leaving 200 people injured with 2 in serious condition. I've read and heard both sides' stories and I don't care what each other blabbers on about, they are BOTH to blame. I mean what the hell are they thinking?!?!? The 'settlers', though I know most were not in fact residents of Judea and Sumaria, for resorting to some sick language (like throwing around the Nazi word freely) and violence (like throwing bricks on policemen). The cops for their extraordinary use of force, and the numbers of injured tell the story of that force. What is this country coming to? This is Israel? This is the country that I love so much? I shudder to think what will happen when the next settlement is evacuated ...

These kinds of events are littered throughout the history of the Jewish people, but it's become even more of a problem since the 1940s. Two pre-State events highlight these problems. The first is 'The Season', where the Haganah willingly disclosed information to the British about Etzel & Lechi (both more radical underground movements than the aforementioned Haganah) fighters. Many of these fighters the British caught would later be hung. How did the Etzel & Lechi react? Menachem Begin refused to retaliate. The propensity for 'brother on brother' crime was highlighted again during the Independence War, when the Altalena, an Etzel cargo ship filled with Holocaust survivors and weapons, was shot on and destroyed by Yitzchak Rabin's forces from the nearby beach (David Ben Gurion's direct orders). Although 16 Jews were killed, there was no retaliation from the Etzel. Menachem Begin, who refused to leave the burning vessel until all the injured had been evacuated, famously said, 'There will not be a war here between brothers.' Does it stop here? Sadly not. The treatment of the 850,000 Arab Jews, who arrived throughout the 1950s, was disgraceful and more recently, the obvious racism when handling our brothers from Ethiopia. The non-stop references to Yitzchak Rabin as a Nazi during the Oslo process was an embarrassment. The list can go on and on but the point is sadly clear. We are too prone to baseless hatred, to 'sina'at achim' (hatred of our brothers). It has to stop before it destroys us. Anwar Sadat quite nicely sums up the stupidity of my people in his autobiography, "How do you destroy Israel? Simple, leave them alone for 25 years and they'll take care of themselves."

Ask a Rabbi what the most important prayer in Judaism is and he should tell you it's the Shema, 'Hear O' Israel'. What's amazing about that prayer's introduction is that it's directed at a singular Israel even though it's talking to every Jew. Simple really, we are one nation, we are supposed to be united and not divided. The divisions in our society are at the worst they've been since the 1950s. I am sadly coming to the conclusion that while the 'nation' of Israel still lives, the country is slowly being lost - to corruption, to sina'at achim, to violence etc. I was discussing why Israel is so special with my dad's cousin a few weeks ago, and she made a very strange comment, 'You have to see this country during war.' Perplexed, I asked her why she would wish a war on Israel. She quickly replied, 'I didn't mean it like that, but to see the unity of our people, how everyone wants to help one another and work together, it's simply amazing.' Sad eh? Sad that war or death (Rav Kadouri's funeral this past week bought in 200,000 Jews - ultra orthodox, modern orthodox, non-religious, Sephardim, Ashkenazim - to mourn) has to unite us.

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers are together in unity"
Psalm 133:1

If only this psalm could become a day to day reality ...

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

We could have beaten the Romans were it not for Jew-on-Jew violence. We could have, because had the Jews seen their common goal and worked toward it they could have held out and stretched the limits of Rome's power and inspired other tribal uprisings across the Empire. Instead, they threw brothers over the walls of Zion. Sad, but not new. The sad reality is, too, that we let conflicts cloud our minds to the fact that we have so much more to unite us, so much more than anti-Semitic and Iranian-Islamic threats and wars. We make-believe that it is our threats that unite us, and we forget all that can unite us beyond and in spite of threats, all that which we choose to marginalize or ignore.