I have written over the past few days draft after draft of an article for this site.
But my hand hovers over the publish button. And fails. I cannot.
We Jews say in private what we do not say in public. In public every word is carefully chosen. Watch Question Time last night and you see a sheen on all foreheads that make-up cannot hide. Those who speak out have to check their tongue. Don’t go there.
Because we live in the UK and are in fear – of our security and of our jobs of our livelihood.
What I write here is self-censored. I’m not someone who can afford to speak openly without financial repercussion. I cannot publish. I must not publish. I dare not publish.
I pointed out to a British journalist that he had misreported the facts of the attack last Saturday. He agreed and thanked me. I then tried to re-write it for him. I tried to tread the middle line, imagining myself as a person who has no interest in the war, and who was reporting on something totally unrelated that had been affected by the war. After half an hour I gave up.
Why do our non-Jewish friends not speak up is a common cry on Facebook. Possibly because it doesn’t involve them. Possibly because they have friends, to paraphrase the FA, in other communities. Possibly because they have no idea what to say. Possibly because simply expressing support for Israel period is too big a leap. What happens if they say x and next week Israel does y.
Treading on eggshells. We are all treading on eggshells.
In public Jews are guarded too. You see brains thinking furiously when asked simple questions. Should I do a Martin Lewis or more of a Rob Rinder? Can I go full on Rachel Riley? Dare I lose some of my followers? Possibly get cancelled?
If this is how we think, feel for a politician keen to get elected trying to answer a question about human slaughter – with one eye on those precious votes.
We’re all at a loss. This is what war does. Those in Israel and Gaza will pay or have paid the ultimate price. The rest of us, sit on the sidelines and watch as humans once again prove that nothing has changed. The sheep does not lie down with the lion. We remain deeply flawed tribal creatures, not those huge-brained Star Trek aliens who had moved onto a level beyond human.
So forgive your friends for not speaking out, forgive the ignorant who don’t enquire beyond headlines, forgive the companies terrified of a Twitter pile-on if one Chief Exec doesn’t toe the line. Forgive Starmer. Forgive Farage. Forgive the flag wavers. The refugees. The Brexit voters. Forgive all. If you have it in your heart forgive the bloody terrorists – be like the British Rabbi was when his family was wiped out only a few weeks ago. So many called him brave. But if you can’t forgive, let’s at least try to understand. Really understand. Put the shoe on the other foot. Then change it back. Then change it back again. Keep changing that shoe. We all started life the same way, and we will all end it the same way. What happened to these babies that they became this? Where did they get their values from? Who and what influenced their lives as children and then as adults? What did they expect when they broke through those fences? What do their leaders expect? What do the leaders of neighboring countries want? What about the democratic or non-democratic leaders of super-powers.
Is their behavior inhuman or is that merely an oft used word to avoid confronting what historically is all too human?