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Forget the ark, just bring the flood

Time to wash away the notion that there is one version of history that you have to agree with me about or die

This week, Jews read the story of Noah and The Flood and today was a day awash with feelings. One of today’s Jerusalem terror attacks was near my house. One of my daughters heard the gunfire and then the sirens, sirens, sirens. Our upstairs neighbor ran for the bus and missed it. It shook us all, maybe because this one was so close to our house. All our other near misses have been further away from our front door.

Straight away, you hear the flood of Israeli reactions, “Kick ‘em all out”, “Kill them all”, “We’ll teach them”. A Palestinian FB friend allows comments on his peaceful posts that include calls for me to die. We all crave simple, final, absolutes. It’s what our gut calls for in response to terror and anger. Wash ‘em away. Finish them all. Start over.

Something primal in us calls for another Noah-style flood. It’s the same thinking as the unsatisfied, angry, immature God that sends The Flood to make us start over. It’s the same kind of thinking that leaves you with just your kind in your ark. We all want our very own invitation-only ark.

So, who’s my kind? I’ll tell you who I want in my ark. My kind is policeman Moshe Chen, his face burnt by the terrorist who blew up her car, screaming “She’s down, don’t shoot, the danger has passed” and saved her life.

My kind is Police Brigadier General Jamal Chakrush, the highest ranking Muslim in the police force, who was described yesterday by his subordinates as a mensch. (I loved that one.)

My kind is Dr. Ahmed Aid, the senior Israeli Arab surgeon at Hadassah Hospital who, as of writing, is still trying to save the life of the 13-year-old Israeli Jewish stabbing victim yesterday.

We don’t need more people condemning all Palestinians and we don’t need more people condemning all Israelis. It’s just blind to the complexity here. That there is one way to do things, one truth, one way to present the facts, one version of history that you have to agree with me about or die – is the thinking of fundamentalists. Not in my ark. In fact, let’s forget the ark.

Instead, I’ll tell you what kind of flood we need. What we need is a flood of social workers. We need 5,000 circles of healing to take place in this city. We need a good cry. We need to wail a river of tears. We need a tsunami of listening and caring and humanizing and meal trains. We need a flood of empathy. It’s messy, exhausting and requires tissues.

Rather than a million shahidim to defend Al Aqsa and a million soldiers defending against this defense, and a zillion declarations of how we/they are animals, how about we get two million reminders about how often Israelis have done both ordinary and extraordinary things to help Palestinians and how often Palestinians have done the same for Israelis.

Weeping with others is preferable. We could cry for ourselves and for each other and for what we have lost and for what we love so much, we are afraid to lose it. And we then we could just howl some. And then we might feel better. That’s a flood that might lift Noah’s ark to somewhere different altogether.

The smell of the air here after it’s been washed by rain is like the lifting of sadness after you’ve cried. I wish it was wetter here.

About the Author
Helen Gottstein is a presentation training specialist and an actress. Presentation training and performances available for bookings in Hebrew and English. helengot@gmail.com