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Flagged Day

My own picture of Jerusalem

I still tear up with I hear the famous broadcast by Motta Gur that states that the Temple Mount is in our hands. While I am not a religious person, the historical and psychological significance of that event cannot be underestimated for Judaism.
Sadly, I cringe when I see the violence that taints this special day. Watching the news, I’m horrified by fighting, arrests, a vehicle torched and stones being thrown. I’m saddened that Israelis and Palestinians are both injured, including five Israeli Police officers.

Unfortunately, the graphic images that are currently horrifying on social media fail to convey the complexity of the situation. Multiple truths can exist at the same time.

Truth: Jews should be allowed to go through their most holy space, and celebrate their victory.

However, the marches are in danger of becoming messianic mockeries of open racism which needs to be stopped immediately. It is beneath Israel to permit abuse such as ‘death to Arabs’ and ‘may your villages burn’ to taint our special celebration. These taunts don’t just insult Palestinians but our own heroes. The Times of Israel highlighted an Arab Israeli police officer who pleaded for Palestinian youth to ignore the chants and keep the peace.

How the heck should this heroic officer, who threw in his lot with the Jewish state feel when his own countrymen, the people he is protecting, are shouting abuse that insults him? Anyone doing so should be fined a sizable sum of money. Arrests only lead to more violence. Make racism pay, literally.

Truth: Jews are often harassed when traveling through East Jerusalem, and are banned from praying at the Temple Mount. There is tremendous incitement against Israelis, which often leads to violence.

However, the Flag Day marches are terrifying for innocent Palestinians, who have to shut down their stores and stands because of fear that there will be rioting. Given the abuse being hurled at them, I don’t blame them. If we march, we should march carrying roses and sweets, alongside our flags. We must show we are not the enemy, and our march is in celebration of a victory, not to humiliate others.

Truth: 70,000 Jews marched.

However, the vast majority of Israelis celebrated in a respectful way. The pictures I see now on Instagram don’t reflect the Israel I know, the Israel that is compassionate and open and desperately wants peace. I don’t want people to look at the terrible scenes and think Israelis are standing silent. The majority are speaking out for peace.

In fact, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has come out to condemn the inflammatory behavior among the marchers, saying extremists will not be allowed to dominate holidays, and racists will not be able to dominate the sane voice.

Heroic organizations like Tag Meir actually gave out flowers today, to show that peace is possible and we don’t have to be enemies. They understand the only way to celebrate Jerusalem Day is to find the peace that is found in the name of the city.

Truth: It’s complicated.

However, it can be better. Israeli voices are speaking up against the extremists. Please, focus on them instead of the hooligans.

About the Author
Elke Weiss is currently an Israel Government Fellow, working in Biodiversity. In her spare time, she's the Content Director for Act For Israel, an Iengage Fellow for the Shalom Hartman Center, a Media Fellow for Chinese Media Center, a novelist and a rabble rouser.
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