Picture this: when my son was little, he had a favorite blanket which had fringes around the edge. He loved to sleep with it, but one night I saw the funniest thing. With one hand he was rubbing the fringes under his nose, but the other hand kept pushing the first one away—he was irritating himself! While it was pretty damn funny to watch, I sometimes think of that, of the way we can be our own worst enemies.
Case in point: the world seems to be pretty down on Israel right now, cancelling speeches that Jewish organizations are involved in promoting, labelling and boycotting products which only results in the erosion of Jewish-Arab relations, and just generally denouncing almost everything we do. So do we stand up for ourselves, saying that we can and should defend our lives even at the cost of those who attack? Sadly, there is a big faction of Jews who are against Jews and Israel.
This past Purim saw a sad rendition of “V’nahafoch Hu,” where things are turned upside down. A soldier came to the scene of a terror attack, did as he was trained and assessed the threat of a terrorist who was lying on the ground, seemingly “neutralized”, realized that the terrorist was not only still moving but was wearing a warm jacket on a hot day and therefore may have been trying to use a hidden explosives vest, and shot him in the head. That soldier was summarily jailed and subsequently immediately ‘tried’ by his government and the media, all due to a one-sided video that was posted without the accompanying audio track, on which you can clearly hear this soldier’s concerns that the terrorist was still a threat and possibly carrying explosives.I watched ta few versions of the video. In the one B’tselem posted, it certainly seems that the soldier was wrong. But in the others, it is clear that he is not a murderer but protecting others like many soldiers before him.
Why do we need the world to hate us when we are so good at doing it to ourselves? Why do we need to listen and kowtow to world opinion, the tide of which is against our right to self-defense? When someone has been abused for a long period of time, he/she starts to not only believe his/her abusers but even, in absence of action from the abuser, self-inflict abuse in the form of mental torture by self-doubt and self-accusation. This is the stage we have reached. We hear so much about how horrible we are, how cruel, we have started to believe it despite evidence to the contrary and knowledge that while we are not perfect, we are certainly much better than the world seems to think.
The day after this attack, without knowing much about it, I joined a planned expedition to the same area to give Purim treats to the soldiers stationed there. Had I known more about what had happened, I would have been even happier that I had gone. While I was there, I had my own moments of self-doubt when I saw some poor Arab children in the area where we were distributing treats. In a moment of pity, I opened the car window and gave them some of my packages, but then they started grabbing at me and pulling at the window and door handle. I will admit that I actually felt some moments of fear, even though it was just children, as I tried to gently but quickly close the window. A boy in our car said they were just like any poor children trying to get candy, but I don’t know; maybe it was just my vivid imagination that felt their anger towards us, their feeling that they deserve what we have. I felt the phantom pull of their fingers even hours later, and I felt unsettled and disturbed just thinking what might have happened differently.
Where are the clear, black and white answers to how to behave? Why do we have to be scared in our own country, at the place where our forefathers were buried? Why are *we* not allowed to worship in peace and freedom (Note how few days it is possible for us to go to Kever Yitzchak, who has NO connection to the Arabs)? And why doesn’t the world see this?
A great big ball of irritation, frustration and anger is sitting inside me as I read the condemnation of a young man who was only trying to do the right thing—save the lives of innocents—even if it meant sacrificing his own innocence along with the life of someone who was already an attempted murderer.
Let’s stop beating ourselves up for doing the right thing. I want desperately to hold onto my concern for others, my care about all who need more and give it if I can, but not at the expense of my own life or those of my brothers and sisters. We can come first, and we shouldn’t apologize for it any more.