David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

Streams of Anxious Consciousness XXVII

A fantastic video has been circulating the air waves. It is a must-watch clip! A young “good trouble” maker walked around New York City holding a clipboard “petition” to help Hamas free Palestine. The unsuspecting passers-by gasp in excitement at the opportunity to lend their name and signature against the oppressive Israel and go on the record for Hamas with their support.

He asks, “You are all in?”
Each person replied emphatically “yes,” or “uh-huh!”

The “good trouble” fella then says, “I have to read you the terms and conditions of the petition, just so you know what you are signing.”

He continues in front of each person who was chomping at the bit to put their John Hancock on the clipboard. “By supporting Hamas to free Palestine, you agree to the following: you agree that every Jew, Christian and non-Muslim in the world must be slaughtered.”

The camera pans to a new suspect while our “good trouble” maker explains more of the not so small print.

“By signing this document in support of Hamas, you endorse making homosexuality punishable by jail or death. Are you ok with Iran using Hamas as radical puppets to spread jihad and destroy the West?

You support strict Sharia law which bans women from showing their knees, their hair, forbids them from playing sports in public, and disallows women from being able to travel without a man’s permission. You want a terrorist group that beheads babies and rapes women to replace the only democracy in the Middle East.”

The clip closes with all of the people saying they are not comfortable signing this “petition” and a credit block appears that reads: Facts for Peace.

I LOVE IT!! I forwarded it to thousands of people. It was a clever maneuver to highlight what Hamas really stands for. Two other things came out of this creative caper.

First, it showed how wildly uneducated most people are about Hamas and what the terrorist group stands for. It is the irony of the century that so many left leaning liberals and woke activists are loudly supporting Hamas which calls for the death of their friends, eradicating their social circles and destroying their value systems. They still ask where to sign.

The second item the “good trouble” maker pointed out to the world is how eager society is to add their name to a petition against Israel. If you do not know about Hamas and what it stands for, then most people were really vocalizing their dissatisfaction with Israel. He did say, after all, the purpose was to help Hamas “free Palestine.” Unless you have been living under a rock, most should know what Hamas did on the 7th of October and why they did it. When Hamas came out from their tunnels to attack us, they also unlocked the cellar doors and gave light to viral antisemitism and Jew-hatred that has been infecting the world. It is shameful and so damn hurtful, still.

Near the entrance to Jerusalem, on one of her seven mountain tops, Har Herzl, Israel’s national military cemetery and Yad Vashem sit side by side. There is a little-known and even lesser taken path that connects the back of Har Herzl which is much like America’s Arlington National Cemetery and the famed Holocaust Museum and Memorial. It is called, HaShvil Hamechaber – The Connecting Path. It is an ironic name considering its purpose.

After World War II, when entire families were decimated by the Nazis, some lone survivors emigrated to Israel. When Israel’s War of Independence broke out in 1948, too many of those lone survivors who were the last heirs of a family, a legacy and a name, died trying to establish the Jewish State. That sacred “connecting” path lays honor to those forgotten souls and gives tribute to the names which were disconnected from living, growing, and rebuilding in Israel and continuing the legacy of those who died in Europe.

The name of the path would be more fitting if it were the ‘disconnected path,’ since individual and family heritage was arrested from carrying forward. To me, that path twists and turns towards perpetual sadness. Situated between two places of historical and modern death, in most cases murders because of our mere existence, and those who survived were taken at the next turn and could not be the link in the chain of our people.


That path has been on my mind because of two painful pictures. Each time I saw it yesterday, I had to fight back tears. Yossi Cohen, former head of the Mossad is pictured consoling a 15-year-old Pedayah Mark at the funeral of Pedaya’s father, Michi, who was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2016.

The next picture was the same Yossi Cohen, sitting by himself, at the funeral of Pedayah Mark, now a Givati soldier, who was killed in Gaza two days ago, defending Israel from Hamas terrorists.

The links in the chain were broken again. Who will continue the Mark family name? The Mark family legacy? The Mark family customs and traditions? The Mark family jokes and banter? A family wiped out in two different spurts by hatred and terror and intolerance.

A path that has been broken. Here we are again, with the same abomination leading to the identical result. Death and paths that are shattered and ended before they reach their destinations.

When will these broken pathways be paved? When will there no longer be generations killed prematurely by hatred and venom and violence? It cannot come soon enough.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, a multi billionaire who lives luxuriously on the Palestinian’s embezzled money in Qatar, announced today – in direct contradiction to his colleague’s assertion yesterday that Hamas will carry out October 7th like attacks again and again until Israel is gone – that he wants to begin immediate political negotiations that calls for an immediate cease fire and a two-state solution. That headline should tell us one thing: Israel is kicking ass! The last (few) times something like this happened, namely in 2006 with Hizbullah, was after Israel offered such a crushing blow to the enemy that they were begging for mercy. The idea that Haniyeh would raise the balloon of two-states publicly speaks of how desperate Hamas is right now.

A few related thoughts.

We have learned the hard way from Iran and crippling sanctions, this is NOT the time to take our foot off of Hamas’ neck. To give Hamas even a small pocket, is to allow evil to continue to fester and breathe. We must make sure the regime has no air in its lungs, no pulse in its evil heart. It must die.

We also have learned from Hamas that we can only believe one thing they say: They want to kill all the Jewish people and remove Israel from the map. That is the ONLY statement we can accept at face value. My dad used to say, a liar needs a good memory. Hamas lies so often it is impossible to decipher what is genuine and fake. But I can assure you that Jewish statehood is not to be taken seriously by Hamas now or ever. This gesture is a sign, that indeed, they have woken a sleeping giant in the IDF and Hamas is worried about their future.

It also unpacks the utter chaos that is Hamas. One spokesperson for the group says we did not harm civilians, while another prides himself on the havoc and barbarism they wreaked. One says we will commit these atrocities over and over while the next in leadership makes a gesture for peace within hours. This is a disorganization that can only agree on one thing. Sadly, we all know what that is.

I am writing this Stream from my hotel room overlooking Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Speaking of ironies! Just today, Chancellor Scholtz announced a formal ban on any public support for Hamas or any terrorist entities in Germany. That includes Isis or Hamas flag waiving, marching, chanting or announcing support for any form of terrorism. What fantastic leadership. Thank you, Chancellor.

My first gleaning from this announcement was who could have thought Germany would be the pace- setter for stopping hateful rhetoric? I do not think many who lived through Pearl Harbor and Kamikaze missions on navy boats in the Pacific would believe that today, Japan is one of our staunchest allies and has been for decades. Heck, Saudi Arabia was (and hopefully still is) on the precipice of normalization with Israel. The naïve and wildly hopeful side of me sees a glimmer of possibility that one day, my kids and grandkids will be the same inheritors of goodness from those who housed the worst enemies and espoused the worst hatred.

I also applaud how well Germany walks the fine line between arresting fascism and allowing free speech. My dear friend who was born in Israel but has lived in Germany for almost two-decades told me a story today from a historical moment in 2017. A neo-Nazi group wanted to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, and march to Spandau where Hess died in prison.

Germany wrestled with the two modern foundational ethics of the country: freedom to assemble and speak and, Never Again on this soil.

The city and country leadership walked the line as follows: The group could bring flags, but they had to be German flags. No swastikas or hateful flags, banners or signs could be seen or shown. The marchers could say and do nothing that would intimidate others in any manner. Counter protestors were welcome to display their distaste for this gathering and disgusts for those still proudly displaying the dirtiest stain on German history for all to see.

The curved line drawn is not hard to follow. Yes, we can assemble, and we can have free speech, but we cannot have speech that glorifies hatred, advances racism or promotes ethnic cleansing or its cleansers or intimidates any group. They can do nothing that provokes violence or leads to violence. It is not hard to follow that line.

The United States is struggling with these two issues as if they are in contradiction to one another. The clashing of two competing values is growing rampant on college campuses, discussion groups, and even on my Temple list-serve. I think we should follow this simple line and learn from those who made grave mistakes and learned generational lessons of what they can never go back towards.

It is far too high a price to pay for any country to make those mistakes again in order to learn and grow.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
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