Esor Ben-Sorek

The march that should never have been. A day of national shame

For centuries the Jewish people have suffered the bitter persecutions of Jew-haters in many countries of the world. Pogroms. Attacks upon Jews. Ghettos. Inquisitions. Holocaust. All leading to mass deaths while the anti-semites paraded and shouted “Death to the Jews”.

What in God’s Holy Name have 5,000 marchers learned today as they paraded through streets in East Jerusalem, Israeli flags held high and waving, with five thousand voices shouting “Death to the Arabs”?

It is unbelievable that such idiocy, racist hatred could take place in the holiest city of both Jews and Muslims. Yair Lapid, our new Foreign Minister, decried it as a shameful disgrace of Judaism and a tragedy in Israel’s history.

But I am confused. Knowing well in advance what the marchers would do, why did our police and members of the new government not forbid it? Why aren’t Ben-Gvir and Smotrich under arrest for racial crimes of hate? Freedom of speech is one thing. Freedom to hate and harm must be eradicated.

I am today totally ashamed of my government and my country. It is not the Israel I knew and not the one I care to know. It sickens me as I recall the marches against us, now repeated against our Arab citizens who, allegedly, have equal rights with Jews.

Under equal rights, what would happen if five thousand Israeli Arabs marched with Palestinian flags through the streets of our cities shouting “itbach al yahud”, death to the Jews?

They would be attacked, beaten, many killed. All of us know it. How many Arabs today in East Jerusalem have been humiliated, attacked, cruelly beaten? Will true facts be revealed or will we be forced to endure more fake news, the kind we experienced in the Netanyahu regime?

I only knew one Arab in my life. He was Rafoul Ghawi, Superintendent of the famous Jerusalem YMCA. When I was a student I was frequently invited to tea and cakes in his upstairs apartment, welcomed and greeted by his wife Widad and their two children. They were Christian Arabs (Lutherans) and I never heard a single word against Jews… only some sad comments occasionally about cruel treatment by Israeli police against Arabs walking on the streets.

I am not a supporter of Arab demands for a division of Jerusalem again nor never for the return of the 1948 hundreds of Arabs who fled or were driven out of their homes. I would never allow it. But, on the other hand, as a proud citizen of the State of Israel, I cannot sit back quietly while 20 % of our non-Jewish population are so cruelly and brutally treated only because they are not Jews.

What must young Arab children think when they hear the Jewish cries of “itbach al arab”, death to the Arabs?? They fear being attacked by Jewish youths as they walk to and from school or playgrounds. Arab mothers are humiliated and cursed as they shop for food in the Jerusalem markets.

As I sit at my computer I am choked with shame. Today I am ashamed to say that I am an Israeli citizen.

It is inconceivable that such a day as today in holy Jerusalem could have happened.

If our patriarch Avraham could have seen the marchers he would have driven them away by force.

“You cannot harm my children. Ishmael is my son and I love him as I love his brother Isaac. Their children are my grandchildren. Do them no harm”.

And now, look at what we have done to Avraham’s grandchildren. God forbid He will place a curse upon us. May Avraham’s God protect us and save us from the evil which exists among many of our people infected with the bitter disease of racism, hatred, and religious bigotry.

Why the Bennett-Lapid leadership which I so much admire did not forbid the march? Why did our police not block the mad mob from entering Jaffa gate enroute to the Muslim quarter?

As they were in view of the Temple Mount, the holiest place in the world to Jews and Muslims alike, the ghost of King Solomon who built the holy Temple, should have appeared to the five thousand mad dogs who marched, and placed his curse upon them for defiling the sanctity on which they trod.

I cannot know what other decent citizens think of today’s “day of shame” nor how they respond to it. I hope many of them will respond and let me know that there are decent Jews still living in our country.

As for me, when I travel abroad I will no longer show my Israeli passport out of shame. Fortunately, I have another one. It belongs to a truly democratic nation. Busha v’cherpa aleinu. Great shame on us.

Judaism and our Torah requires of us to lift up our voices against oppression. This is what I am doing. I’m lifting up my voice. And I hope I won’t be alone.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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