Sometimes, you have to lead with a joke:

Two Jewish guys get stuck on a desert island. So after finding adequate food and shelter, they build three synagogues:

One for the Reform Jewish guy.

One for the Orthodox Jewish guy.

And one that neither will set foot in.

Two Jews, three opinions.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

But at some point, the joke stops being funny, especially in Israel where everyone is living thisclose to each other, where our lives often depend on one another, and where we’re more times than not tearing each other apart.

Like today, when a riot broke out after an ultra-Orthodox couple tried to force a woman to give up her seat on an Egged bus in Beit Shemesh. Things devolved ridiculously fast, and in response to what happened, ultra-Orthodox protesters stoned three other Egged buses as they drove down the same street,

Ok. Before I go on, let me make it abundantly clear that I’m all for debate. In fact, I think it’s freaking awesome that Israelis — and Jews — grapple with the very issue of what it means to be Israeli, of what it means to be Jewish. Hell naw, we don’t drink the Kool-aid, and that is one of the many, many, many reasons why I rock my Magen David with pride, yo. We’re a nation that values discussion, and interpretation — we’re a nation where people can bust an artery in an argument about whether Halil Hummus in Ramle is better than Abu Hassan in Yafo. 

(Which it isn’t!) 

But lately, it’s getting out of hand.

I’m going to go over this in broad strokes, because the details are irrelevant when a little girl gets spat on, or when young men throw eggs at women who are gathered to pray, or when an ultra-Orthodox soldier walks through his own neighborhood in a soldier’s uniform and gets attacked, or when a riot breaks out on a bus in Beit Shemesh because a woman refuses to give up her seat. 

“But…”

No.

There is no justification.

Look, I’m writing this because I love Israel so hard that it hurts sometimes, and I’m writing this because I get that you all probably feel the same about this place.  But my people, my people, we have got to pull our $hit together.

And here’s why: Eventually Israel will make peace with the Palestinians. Like it or not, it’s gonna happen  — maybe not in 9 months, but someday. And unless we’re solid as a people who can argue respectfully without throwing eggs, or spitting on little girls, or stoning buses, we will be staring a nasty civil war in the face.

Bit by bit  — and no, I’m not talking about the peace talks in Washington — Jewish and Arab “cousins” are already coming together on their own to break it down in the most simple, human terms possible in coexistence dialogue groups. And if two long-sworn enemies can do it, so can we.

Strike that. So we must.

 

*** Want to get a dialogue group going? Talk to me. ***