Sixteen years ago, this month, half an hour past midnight early on a Monday morning, I was sitting in the living room of our family home in Newlands Cape Town, chatting to a friend on the phone when I heard a loud crash and the screeching of tyres. The smell was unmistakable. I had participated in enough mifkad eish ceremonies on the last night of machaneh, to recognize the smell of burning gasoline. I slammed down the phone and ran to wake up my family, unlock the security gate and call the fire brigade. We stood outside in the street surrounded by our neighbours, awaiting the fire brigade who took almost 40 minutes to arrive, supposedly arguing over under whose jurisdiction we fell – was it Wynberg or was it Mowbray – while we watched our home burn.
Two Molotov cocktails were hurled through the front window of our family home simply because we were Jews. The Muslim perpetrators did not know my family. They did not even know my family name. They did not care who we were. They did not care if we were liberal, progressive and supportive of the Palestinian cause. It was irrelevant. Pagad Hamas claimed responsibility. They targeted my family for one simple reason…… because my father was the owner of a Jewish Bookstore, because we are Jews.
Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan and beheaded by Al-Qaeda, because he was an American Jew. Approximately 200 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram forces, some raped, some murdered and some sold as sex slaves, simply because they were Christian. Iraqi Christians, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, have fled in their thousands in order to escape the wrath of ISIS and certain death, just because they are Christian. We have witnessed the rape and brutal slaughter of thousands of Yazidis in Iraq, throwing the woman and children into mass graves and burying them alive, purely because they are Yazidi. And the video released last week by the Islamic State Militia documenting the beheading of James Foley. This was not a Game of Thrones guillotine chop. This was a gruesome sawing using a small hand knife. James Foley was murdered simply because he was American. Nobody cared about his political views or his desire to make a difference in this world. He was slain for one reason only – because he was American.
The Western World today, in its desire and determination to be liberal, progressive and all-loving, has become self-sacrificing. The world is so hell bent on being pro whoever the given apparent underdog, that we are sacrificing ourselves, our core, our very being. ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Fatah, Pagad, Islamic State Militia, Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbolla, Boko Haram or any other name given to the Islamic Jihad terrorist factions, seem to understand something that most of the western world has forgotten. The Essential You. It’s irrelevant where you stand or how liberal “grey” your political views. If you are not Muslim, you are dead.
In my 16 plus years as an Israeli citizen I have seen enough war, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks to understand that the Islamic Jihad are not interested in peace, they are not interested in compromise. Hamas is not interested in negotiation, nor a 2 state solution. The primary goal of the Palestinian elected Hamas, is the entire Israel and the death of every living Jew. But it’s not just about Israel and the Palestinians, is it? It’s not just about this teeny tiny country that I am blessed to call my home. It’s about world domination. It’s about Islamic rule. It’s about a global Caliphate. It’s about the annihilation of entire populations. The ultimate genocide.
The sad truth is that the world is so desperate in its need to be liberal, that reality has become clouded. The courtroom is foggy. The jury confused. And judgment misplaced. Because it’s not really just about Israel. It’s about you too. It is about every living, breathing human being who values life and freedom of choice. Any choice. It’s about the entire free world.
Israel’s defensive action against Hamas in Gaza is the Jewish nation protecting our right of existence, our birthright. Our defensive action is protecting the right of every Jew in Israel and in the Diaspora, to live and to live freely as a Jew. It is protecting the right of every living person in the western world, to be free to be you. Israel is proud. We value our history. We treasure our birthright. We stand strong. We do not kill indiscriminately. Our army is moral. We abort missions because the enemy hide behind innocent children. We endanger our own, to minimize the killing of Palestinian civilians. We supply those that shoot hundreds of rockets daily and celebrate our death, with medical care, electricity and humanitarian aid. We can because we are.
I am a Jew. I am pro peace. I value life, all life. I am kind and caring. I am warm and loving. I listen. I really hear. I believe in mutual tolerance, respect and understanding. I believe in one of the most basic principles of Judaism – loving your fellow man. But what does it mean to love your fellow man? Does it mean forgoing your heritage and suppressing your identity? Does it mean supporting others while compromising your core? Does it mean bending over backwards to prove how liberal, progressive and all-loving you are at the cost of the fundamental you?
So next time, in your desperation to be liberal, progressive, fair, critical and outspoken, in your dire determination not to be polarized and to sit proudly in the foggy grey cloud………think carefully about who you are, your roots, your origin, your heritage. Love yourself. Care for yourself. Believe in yourself. Respect yourself. Know yourself. Take care and the time to invest in yourself, to build yourself, to solidify who you are and what that means. Then, and only then, reach out. Reach out with a solid foundation and extend a hand to those who deserve your love, your assistance. Stand strong in who you are, before you help others to be who they are.
Because World, it’s not about the shades of grey, it’s not about melting and fusing. It’s about mutual existence and being FREE TO BE YOU.