Criticize. But Please Don’t Stand against Your Own

I come from a family where almost everyone is politically homogeneous. When we go to a family event and someone says something disparaging about Obama’s dealings with Israel, we don’t even think twice about offending anyone because everyone agrees.

But moving out of my New York bubble to a small community in the South (and marrying someone from outside of New York) has been an eye-opening experience. I have learned that not every Jew supports Israelis living in Yehuda and Shomron (otherwise known as the West Bank), not every Jew feels that Obama has not been a supportive president for Israel and most surprisingly for me, that some Jews even support the deal with Iran.

If I sound naive, I was. To some degree, I probably still am.
But since meeting people who have very different views that mine, I’ve also learned many important lessons.

I have learned that political views do not entirely define us. There is always more commonality between people than first appears and I have tried to focus on these things rather than what divides us.

I have learned that telling people that I don’t agree with them and all the reasons why does not make them agree with me. Usually, people will continue to hold onto their views, some of which I have learned to respect and understand even while I disagree.

I have learned that it is difficult for people to hear another voice. We will read and share articles on Facebook that we agree with and it is rare to see a crossing of the lines and a post of an article from the other view.

And I have learned to be in the right mood when reading my Facebook wall, because there are times when it is very painful. There are times when I read articles posted by friends that attack the Jewish state that I love and my religious practices (that’s for another blog), in ways that are hurtful and disrespectful (I am not referring to differences of opinion, which are voiced respectfully; those I actually appreciate). But I have tried to keep quiet for the most part, realizing that people are entitled to their views, as much as I am entitled to mine and anyway, saying something will not make much difference.

But after the horrific events of this past week and the responses to them, I feel the need to speak out. And I implore those of you out there who don’t usually take the same political side I do to please read this and think about what I am saying before you automatically discount my words. Perhaps there is something to be heard about what I am saying, even if you don’t entirely agree.

Two horrible events happened in Israel this past week. An ultra-Orthodox man stabbed fellow Jews at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, killing a 16-year-old girl and injuring others. And in what seems like a Price Tag attack, a Jewish person attacked a Palestinian family, killing a toddler and injuring others. Two awful and tragic attacks. Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as many of the right-wing members of the government condemned the attacks immediately. My Facebook wall was full of statuses — including my own — from both right-wingers and left-wingers alike, denouncing the horrific nature of the attack and calling for justice. And this is entirely appropriate and comforting to see this vocal response of the Jewish community.

But looking at the articles from Tablet Magazine and The Forward, and some of the posts of some of my more liberal friends, I feel myself wondering the same question I had last year when Jewish extremists murdered a Palestinian in the revenge attack of the kidnapping of the three boys. Yes, we should absolutely condemn these horrific attacks and be utterly embarrassed that this is how Jews behave.

But the constant finger-pointing at the the religious and settler community even when its leaders have denounced the attacks? The highlighting of random comments that extremists have posted applauding these attacks, when they represent no one but their own idiotic beliefs, that have nothing to do with the Torah they claim they observe? Where are the posts from my liberal friends of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem visiting the victims of the stabbing? Where are the shared posts of Prime Minister Netanyahu calling the attackers “terrorists” and vowing to seek justice?

And why do we only post when our side is in the wrong? Is our very own blood not worth commenting about?

Where were the posts when a Jewish baby was hit in the head with rocks from Palestinians and suffered brain damage? Where were their posts when the Fogel family was brutally murdered? Where were their posts when rockets were raining all over Israel? Where are the posts of articles about children growing up without parents and parents raising families with missing children because members of their families were victims to acts of terror? Where were the posts about Palestinians and members of Hamas dancing in the streets after these attacks and handing out candies to children and the cheering and approval of Palestinian leaders — something that NEVER happens in Jewish communities, no matter how extremist, following an attack on an innocent Arab victim.

These are often the same posters who post articles about the Jewish state being anti-women, anti-Arab, too Orthodox, anti-Ethiopian, anti-gay etc.

Where are the posts about Israel’s opening up its doors to Jewish immigrants from all over the world, no matter how difficult that sometimes was/is for Israel’s economy? Where are the posts about all of the government projects and non-profit organizations that have emerged to help new immigrants, including Ethiopians? Where are the posts praising Israel’s voting TWO women as Prime Minister in its short history (just because Tzippy Livni couldn’t get a coalition together doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t get the credit for this), when the United States is much older and forty years after Israel voted a woman Prime Minister, cannot boast even one? Where are the posts praising Israel for offering Arab citizens equal citizenship, when those very same Arabs attacked Israel, and killed their sons for merely following the UN directive and announcing statehood? Where are their posts about Israel’s putting the lives of their own soldiers at risk in order to attack terrorists in Gaza in the most humane way and avoid civilian casualties?

Am I saying that Israel is perfect? No. Am I saying people shouldn’t post articles about how Israel has to improve? No. What I am saying to post articles about the good and post the articles about the bad. But don’t just write and post about the bad.

Assuming we love and support of Israel may be a given to you and therefore, you may think there is no need to tweet and post about it but realize, when you only post the negative, you are sending a message to the world that you see Israel and view negative. You may think that’s an extreme statement but is it any different than in a marriage, when a husband hears constant criticism? The wife thinks her love is a given- after all, she chose to marry him and he certainly has many redeeming qualities. But all the husband hears are the negatives words that come out of her mouth. The things we say about Israel are no different.

I implore you: think before you post badly about the Jewish people and about the Jewish state. Do not only think of the lives and rights of others and ignore the blood of our very own people. And I bless us all that we should feel a belonging and allegiance to the Jewish state in good times and that we should never have to learn the lesson that many others have learned before us in bad times, that if we ever need a Jewish state, it is there for us, to welcome us with a free flight, benefits and absorption centers.

About the Author
Ariela Davis, a native New Yorker, is the Rebbetzin of Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Orthodox synagogue, Brith Shalom Beth Israel, and the Director of Judaics of Addlestone Hebrew Academy, Charleston’s Jewish day school. She is the wife of Rabbi Moshe Davis and the mother of four children.