Is it possible for the world to change in an instant? Can we transform this cycle of hate into a cycle of love, tolerance and betterment for mankind?
I listened to a podcast yesterday, and I didn’t really listen properly, but basically, it promoted the idea that man (mankind) has the ability to change and to be good. And we think we have sunk so low that I’m not sure we can go any lower.
And we see in this week’s Parsha the story of Joseph. Joseph was sitting in prison, in a dungeon, the lowest of the lowest and in an instant, he was elevated to become the second most powerful person in Egypt. And I want to use the emphasis on the word, instant. Israel is facing a battle for its land, its soul, and its right to exist. This fight is being led by Iran, and fought by its proxies Hamas, Houthis, and Hezbollah- backed by the UN, Media and others. They can not tolerate this little Jewish country in their caliphate. It is more than an obsession. As long as Israel exists, they are wrong and a failure. Instead of seeking a vision of unity under God, they choose to divide and fight God.
One more thing, there are approximately 45 major conflicts in the world, from Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia et al with high death tolls, in the hundreds of thousands maybe, yet only one conflict touches all this attention, and I’m sorry to say, the death tolls are less than 20,000. Yes, every life is important, okay, and the statistics are saying that over 14,500 of these are terrorists and have been killed. I must ask, why is this such an obsession here? Why this obsession? Even today it disgusts me that 20% of American youth doubt that they think the Holocaust is a myth. Wow, where have we gone wrong in society? And this battle, I think, is much bigger than just Israel and Hamas, the battle of the Judeo-Christian Values. We are sitting here during Hanukkah, reflecting on that, and I urge you to look at this powerful video from Dr. Phil, who so eloquently expresses the challenge, and draws references to Hanukkah, the Hostages, and the lack of concern or information (the truth) is truly astounding.
To go back to “context”, I don’t see a world call for calling and banning Hamas as a terrorist organisation, I don’t see calls for condemning the atrocities of 7th October, I don’t see calls for releasing the hostages or even calls for demand access for the Red Crescent. This war was started by Hamas, and you could say, oh if we’re in the context, that was the occupation, there was oppression, there were embargoes, lack of opportunities for these Gazans. I’m sorry to say, there was no occupation of Gaza. We encouraged Gazan workers to come work in Israel, where they double-crossed us and made plans to attack our communities. Israel has provided water and electricity for free for many years. We left them an industry of hot houses and agriculture which they destroyed. They had a chance to make a vibrant society, they received 16 billion worth of funding over X number of years, which they chose to invest in tunnels of destruction. And we can go back to the 1990s, we can go back to history and even then, there were big subsidies to the Palestinian refugees. They were refugees out of choice, not because we were necessarily forced by the situation. They were encouraged to leave their homes in 1948 War by the invading countries. These were Arabs, Syrians, Jordanians, and Egyptians. There was no such thing a “Palestinian” people. (Name one historical Palestinian leader?) The Arab states sought to have a great Caliphate — greater Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But Israel was in their way I heard that if you add up all the subsidies at that time, and you divided by the population, we were going to have approximately 3 million dollars per person. That was in the 1990s. So there was enough money, enough space to be able to live in prosperity. And we tried to live in peace and prosperity with our neighbours. Many of them today have a very high standard of living. Despite the high standard of living including those living in Israel, they still seek to kill us, maim us, murder us, rape us. And October 7th was just one event, a major event, out of many little, small ones. And that is the context that we have this hatred, this obsession, not only in the Arabs and the Palestinians, but the world and the world organizations, to bring about the final solution against the Jewish state. And as Golda Meir once said, if the Jews put down their arms, there would be no more Israel. But if the Palestinians put down their arms, there would be peace. And that is “the context”.
I just finished reading a book called Not in Vain, about a German Jewish nurse who went to work as a nurse in a Jewish hospital in Alexander, Egypt, and she described the good relationship between Egyptians and the Jews and other foreigners. And all that changed in 1947 and 1948 with the establishment of Israel. And where not only in Egypt, but Jordan and all the other Arab countries the Jews were expelled from these countries and their property confiscated (Where is the call for justice?) And a cycle of hate existed, trying to deny the Jewish people, the indigenous people of Israel their homeland, their homeland.
Fast forward to 2023. I came across the article that described an Iranian lady, lingering in jail, receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. And just like Joseph was in jail, this lady is in jail. And there seems to be a ground-swelling of Iranian people who want peace. And I know in the past, some Israelis have reached out to these people and vice versa. So, I want to reflect on this. She says that policies of the West should not be made to prolong the rule of these despicable leaders but look for change. And this change should happen to all the leaders of the West and East, and let’s say university presidents, sort of need a reset in their minds about tolerance, racism, and hate. We need to find that common good in mankind. And yes, the world’s calling for a ceasefire. Yes, let these evil Hamas leaders surrender. Hod Iran and Qatar are liable for funding and supporting this. Return our hostages in good health. Let’s have a situation where our displaced citizens can return to their homes both in the south and the north. Currently, 400,000 People are not in their homes and this figure is higher due to soldiers and reservists who are sacrificing their lives for peace and security.
Let’s rebuild the world for a better place.
NOT IN VAIN
At this stage, I want to share the words of Leah Wolf, the Heroine Nurse who wrote in her biography by Ada Aharoni Not In Vain. Words that resonate with us today.
“Israel’s War of Independence began when its half a million inhabitants were attacked by its two hundred million Arab neighbours. For some time Tiberias was completely cut off. There were house-to-house attacks in the lower part of Tiberias, and wounded civilians were brought to the hospital all through the day and night. The hospital was the only one for the town of Tiberias, the Jordan Valley, and the Galilee settlements, and for some time also for the town of Safad. We worked nonstop day and night with fear in our hearts, but finally, we could celebrate Israel’s first Independence Day, on May 15, 1948, after the majority vote at the United Nations for the establishment of the State of Israel.
Looking back on my life today, like a strip of film stretched backward before my eyes, or the gushing waters of the Nile-I realize that war has always dogged me and haunted me throughout my years. During the First World War, I was a starved child wandering with cramps in my stomach, desperately seeking for forgotten raw potatoes in the fields. As a nurse in Alexandria, I lived through the horrors of World War II, and suffered the unspeakable tragedy of having my whole family murdered by the Nazis. Since I have been in Israel, my life has been torn by war after war-five cruel and senseless wars in which young blood, on both sides of the frontier, was pitilessly poured. My God, why? Why can’t this continuous bloodbath stop? The latest wars in Lebanon, Bosnia and Rwanda, daily devour young hearts and brains, and the world watches speechlessly, shrugging its shoulders in unconcern or despair. The American and the French peace corps who had tried to help had pulled out. And I pray for peace, for a world beyond war before the end of our century.
I had hoped that by New Year’s Eve 1998 two years before the end of our mushroom-war century, we would see the end of wars and that the whole concept and practice of warfare would be abolished. But the tragedy of wars continues endlessly, with fresh corpses of civilians and soldiers added to the long list every day.
However, the new year brings renewed hope. I have arrived at the conclusion that if the people of the world desire it, they can stop the monster called war from existing among us. If we all rise together against it, we can one day soon, cross it out from our historical dictionary. We can handle war just as we did its distant relative “duelling,” which has been banned from the earth forever. The argument that man is an aggressive animal who likes to kill is simply untrue. I have interrogated many soldiers throughout more than half a century who have gone through several abominable wars. They all said they had hated killing other human beings. I decided that the solution can only come from us, the people-let us each cry out with all our strength: I do not want my children to be killed! Eventually, we will be heard. We must be heard! All conscientious citizens of the Global Village should organize a great BAN WAR campaign and kill war. This terrible practice called warfare, the abominable arrangement-I’ll put my children here, you’ll put yours in front of mine-they’ll kill each other, and only then we will arrive at a peace treaty-has to stop. It has to be terminated before the end of this century, and war has to be banished forever. Anyway, every war ends with a peace treaty, so why not start there? Let’s have the negotiations and the peace treaty, before the mutual killing of our children, and not the other way round! Nuclear arms have rendered wars more absurd than ever. In a nuclear war, no side wins. The only conqueror will be the total nuclear winter which will envelop the world. Those who will survive will envy the dead. The fear that any of the fifty or so absurd wars might turn into a third world war, which would surely be with nuclear energy — grips the corner of my heart and folds it harshly to its center where it is most painful.
Yet some important events in recent years strengthen my hope: I thank God that I have witnessed the signing of the peace treaty between Israel’s Prime Minister Begin and Egypt’s President Sadat”
Where is that hope now?
Photo of book covers taken by me.
It is my hope that this book — Not In Vain is made into a best-selling Movie. This story of suffering and hope needs to be told over and over again toda