So much violence and cruelty in our world. While I wrote my message days ago, and I follow these words, I need to make this statement.
How can we tell our children or grandchildren that they live in a world where people cut the heads off other people? Animals don’t do that to each other! Yes, there is much goodness and kindness in our world, but also so much cruelty and barbaric behavior. As a Jew, the only thing I can do is keep acting and believing in the good, even as there are those who understand only physical strength and savage behavior. I write these words as the American journalist, James Foley, is very much in my thoughts.
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My friends, so many of us tend to think of this as Israel’s war. But at least in my thinking, and that of many others, this is in fact our war. Imagine the scenario that has repeatedly occurred: hordes of hateful, violent demonstrators who have flocked to the streets of European cities, and New York City also, not to call for peace or an end of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, but to demonize Israel for daring to protect its citizens.
Imagine that 80 years after being forced to wear yellow stars so that they could be targeted for persecution, that European Jews have been instructed by their rabbinic leaders to hide any signs of their Jewish identity for their own protection.
Anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism? Yes, it is the Jews of Europe, not the Muslims of Europe, who are emigrating in record number to find a safe haven. Just weeks ago, it seemed like everywhere I went in Israel, I heard French being spoken. Yes, especially in Europe, it is Jews who feel vulnerable to attack, and who have faced the most violence, and whose institutions from synagogues to community buildings to Jewish newspaper offices have been under heavy police guard for years, even as no Muslim community in the West has had to undertake similar security precautions.
Yes, sixty-six years after its establishment as an independent nation by the United Nations, the Jewish state remains the only state in the world whose right to self-defense, indeed to national existence, is constantly challenged. In Lord Byron’s memorable words: “The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cove, mankind their country-Israel but the grave.”
Walk through Israeli cities, even in wartime, and see the beautiful children playing freely and proudly. See the elderly secure that they have an address in this world, and that they are not at the mercy of rulers and populations who regard them as “other.” Walk in Israel and feel the pride and satisfaction that “this is what my people have built,” in spite of a world that seems to have a different standard for Jews than for all other people….and in spite of a higher moral standard that we have for ourselves.
Rabbi David Greenberg