All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Brotherly Love - Jewish Style

I got into heated arguments with two non Jewish colleagues in school today about the situation. What it boiled down to is their failure to understand why I felt so strongly about what was going on in Israel.

They reasoned (understandably) that as I am not Israeli, there's no reason why I should feel so strongly about representing Israel's view. As they saw it, I needed to be much more level-headed and unbiased about what was going on.

One teacher felt that if Avi Shlaim an Israeli who was writing in the Guardian was being critical about Israel, why couldn't I also be as scathing about Israel's "disppropriate" use of force against the Palestinians. Although I tried to explain that if Avi Shlaim, the author of "Zionism today is a real enemy of the Jews" was writing an article, he could hardly be considered as a friend of Israel, irrespective of his nationality. But he would have none of it and failed to get what I was saying.

It's a toughie. How do you get across the point of "Kol Yisrael arevim ze be'ze" or "All the people of Israel (sic Jews) care about one another"? How do you explain the notion of each IDF soldier being like a close member of my family, irrespective of whether or not I know him or her? When Israel goes to battle, we are there, willing the boys on and praying that they come home safely. How can you convey the emotion you get when you hear that a boy has fallen in battle?

I'm afraid that I'm going to admit to failing on this occasion.

Both members of staff just couldn't understand what it was I trying to get across. They didn't get it. They didn't want to accept the idea that the to us, every Jew counts. Granted, not every Jew feels that way, but enough to want to go out there in the cold evening air and protest for Israel outside the Israeli embassy in the heart of Kensington.

Enough want to go to Trafalgar Square this coming Sunday and say "we are Jews and we want the world to know that the Israelis who are suffering are our Israelis. The soldiers who are fighting are our soldiers and irrespective of where we live, this war is our war.

How do I explain the pride we feel when one of our people gets a Nobel Prize or even the old pastime of working out which actors, singers, dancers, pole vaulters is one of us?

This is the kind of brotherly love that we feel about the other members of our tribe and if these Gentiles don't understand it, I guess we can't be that surprised. At the end of the day, will they ever look to the Israel as being a friend of foe of the West?

As Jews, unfortunately, we are blessed with the sixth sense and we know that unless groups like Hamas are dealt with severely, both Jew and Gentile will pay a bitter price in the years to come from ignoring the threats they pose to the quality of life my erstwhile colleagues value so highly.

Right now, there is no other country I would rather be spending time in than in Israel, irrespective of what the world thinks of either me or my people.

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