Freedom, Fear and the Stranger on Passover

In Kansas City a known anti-Semite shot and killed William Lewis Corporon at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday where he took his 14 year old grandson to compete in a music competition. The boy, Reat Underwood was also killed in the attack. A third victim, Terri LaManno was shot and killed outside the Village Shalom Retirement Community all on the day before the beginning of Passover.

On Monday Baruch Mizrahi, an Israeli policeman was shot and killed in his car near Hebron while traveling with his family to a Passover Seder. His wife and one of his children were wounded in the attack. There was a riot near an Israeli army base in Hebron on Wednesday involving about fifty Palestinians leading to the wounding of seven Palestinians.

The religious importance of the Temple Mount to Jews and the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock to Muslims, (The Nobel Sanctuary), and the claims and counter claims has created conflict concerning questions of access as well as the right to pray at this Holy site secured by the Israeli government but run by the Waqf Ministry of Jordan. The importance of the site has led Jews and Muslims extremists to violence on behalf of this history including a riot on Sunday when Israeli police opened the entrance at the Mughrabi Gate. Palestinians threw rocks and were shot and wounded with rubber bullets and stun grenades were fired by the police to disperse the crowd. On Monday five Israelis were arrested on the Temple Mount for trying to sacrifice a goat in respect to an ancient Jewish ritual on Passover no longer followed by modern Rabbis. The goat was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. There was a larger confrontation on the sacred soil at the top of the Old City on Wednesday.

According to the Daily Beast on Tuesday/Wednesday flyers were handed out at the synagogue in the city of Donetsk in East Ukraine and placed on car windshields:“The flyers were addressed to “Jews of Donetsk” from the “Independent Donetsk Republic” and ordered Jewish residents of the city to pay the new pro-Russian revolutionary authorities $50 apiece for individual registration, otherwise “the guilty ones would be deprived of their citizenship and deported outside the republic; their property would be confiscated.”

The population of Yarmouk has decreased by over 80% as the Syrian army continues to starve the people of the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria located in Damascus which has withered through evacuation, escape, slaughter and malnutrition from 160,000 down to approximately 20,000 isolated residents.

There is a desperate need for peace between Israelis and Palestinians: A peace that answers the prayers of a majority of each of these ancient peoples by creating two states that live as neighbors with freedom, security and prosperity for all. It is the goal of the Passover story to seek the Promised Land in freedom and to be good to the stranger:

“Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. … You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God …. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour.” Leviticus 19:34

It is a most necessary outcome to secure the future of two peoples and guarantee a homeland to both Palestinians and Jews living in the Diaspora.

About the Author
Larry Snider is President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace, an NGO based in Philadelphia that brings the faiths together to learn about and from each other and to build a new constituency for Middle East Peace.