When the ceasefire was announced my friend asked me if I felt some relief. I took less than a second to respond that I did not. It’s not that I’m not relieved to know that my friends and family will hopefully sleep more soundly, at least for now, and that the death toll will cease to rise. It’s that I can’t un-see and un-hear many of the reactions to the events of the last two weeks.
Here are 5 things that the ceasefire won’t fix:
- The Deafening Silence. While the sound of rockets and alarms is no longer blaring incessantly, the sound of silence is deafening. I blatantly asked a non-Jewish friend why she wouldn’t stand with us. Maybe it was unfair to pick on her, but I did because her Facebook profile pics and posts are an ever-revolving display of activism in the form of French flags, blackouts, and other symbols of support for every cause. There are Israeli flags and “I Stand With Israel Forever” face-frames on social media, but only a select few have opted to use them. The apathy from the American Jewish community is also mind-boggling. Have we learned nothing from the repercussions of keeping our heads down and quietly hoping that no one notices us? I’m noticing. The silence, the fear of speaking out, or worse yet, the indifference, wrongly signal that this has nothing at all to do with us. But this has everything to do with us. All of us. We don’t have a chance at rooting out hatred until we stand up to all forms of it, every single time.
- Misinformation. Sentiments such as, “Sheik Jarrah started this entire conflict,” “Israelis stormed Al Aqsa Mosque,” “Israel occupies Gaza,” and “Israel has fewer casualties and is, therefore, the aggressor,” are circulating the cesspool of not only social media but mainstream media as well. Words like “colonialism” and “oppression,” and uneducated celebrity weigh-ins, do not belong in this conversation. Just because you heard it, doesn’t mean it’s true, and while I’m at it, Twitter is not a news source. Obviously, not everyone needs or wants to study the history and geopolitics of this incredibly complicated region, but logic dictates against speaking, tweeting, or sharing about topics we know nothing about. How many “activists” have, before jumping on what they perceive is a “woke” social justice movement, actually studied a map and some history in order to understand the difference between the West Bank and Gaza, Abbas and Haniyeh, Hamas and the Palestinian people, and the myriad intricacies that comprise this complicated region?
- Anti-Semitism. This latest round of violence has refueled the uneducated debate centered around anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. For the record, one last time, those terms are synonymous because one leads to the other. The ADL defines anti-Semitism as, “a form of prejudice or discrimination directed toward Jews as individuals or as a group. Anti-Semitism is based on age-old stereotypes and myths that target Jews as a people, their religious practices and beliefs, or the Jewish State of Israel.” The ADL defines anti-Zionism as “a prejudice against the Jewish movement for self-determination and the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the State of Israel. It may be motivated by or result in anti-Semitism, or it may create a climate in which anti-Semitism becomes more acceptable.” So we can mince words and engage in philosophical arguments all day long. The bottom line is that you can’t have one without the other. A quick and bone-chilling perusal of the Hamas Charter seems to confirm the ADL’s definition.
- Rise in Violence against Jews. Palestinian protests all over the world have turned bone-chillingly vile and violent. A convoy of cars draped in Palestinian flags (convoy, as in, not one or two cars) with megaphones blaring “F__ the Jews! F__ their mothers! Rape their daughters!” made its way through ever-so-civilized London. In the Netherlands and in Berlin, Israeli flags burn and in LA and NYC, Jews are attacked on the streets. This week President Biden signed into law a much-needed crime bill that protects Asian Americans. He tweeted that hate has no place in America. And it doesn’t. So how can this be happening to us?
- Knee-Jerk Responses and Lack of Common Sense. The #MeToo movement and BLM ushered in an age of social activism that has the potential to effectuate some real and lasting positive changes. Unfortunately, the Women’s March was hijacked by anti-Semitic voices that marginalized many would-be Jewish supporters. Similarly, BLM, a movement meant to once and for all eradicate systemic racism in this country, and now around the world, has deeply disturbing anti-Semitic roots. This week, BLM came out in support of Palestinians. Not a word about Hamas, the terrorist organization that sent 4,000 rockets into Israel. Not a word about Jewish lives. Not a prayer for peace on both sides. #FreePalestine means the eradication of the Jewish state. You don’t even need to read between the lines; they spelled it all out.
A friend whose son is currently studying in Israel shared that she is forever changed by this conflict. Not just because her teen spent days in a bomb shelter, but because of the lack of support, apathy, and pseudo-wokeness of some in her circle. She doesn’t know how she will look them in the eye after what they said, and what they didn’t say. I stand with her. I stand with all of us who just want to live in peace, but are also not afraid to speak out. Enough is enough.