Them versus us: The Jewish siege mantra.
I propose another paradigm in regard to the 60,000 refugees who have come to us asking for compassion and justice: They are us. When organizations like Im Titrtzu take a page from the xenophobe handbook and blame the strangers among us, refugees mostly from Darfur and Eritrea, for the poverty of South Tel Aviv, it is they — the members of Im Tirzu — who threaten Israel’s “Jewish character”.
Im tirtzu, ein zu agada is a prayerful inspiration for us as Jews, and for our obligation to others: “Once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.” Theodor Hertzl
But the organization Im Tirzu is turning those words into a hammer with which to quash the prayers and longings of others.
Let’s instead stand up and be the justice-seeking, compassionate, creative and inventive people we are called to be. It’s not “either-us or them” it’s “and”. When we recite Hallel, which is sometimes called the Egyptian Hallel because it relates to our exodus from Egypt, we call out joyfully, From the narrowness (of Egypt) I call to God. From the expanse, God answers me.
Let’s seek the expanse.