You probably think that most Jewish people were shocked at the massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue this weekend. They weren’t. And it’s not because they’re the number one target of hate crimes in the U.S., and without a doubt, the world, per capita. And it’s not because Trump is president, or because Jeremy Corbyn is soon to be in charge of Great Britain. And it’s definitely not because things are worse now than they’ve ever been (far from it). It’s because it’s never been any different. Ever.
To be familiar with the history of the Jewish people is to be familiar with a never-ending story of persecution, dehumanization, enslavement, oppression, torture, rape & murder. Chased all around the world by people who insist they don’t belong wherever they are. Always waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop. And it’s no different today. And it never will be.
But there’s something you can do. And I’m not talking about sending your thoughts and prayers. There’s something real you can do. And more importantly, there’s something you should do – Support the only, tiny, Jewish state. The only place on the planet where Jews have a chance to defend themselves from never-ending hatred. The only place on the planet where they’re not at the mercy of the people whose country they inhabit. Everywhere else in the world, their rights and their humanity are always on the table, and can always be taken off of it. Everywhere else in the world, if all else fails – they can just be massacred like animals.
And of course, they’re not really safe in Israel. They’re under constant attack by people obsessed with murdering as many of them as possible, and wiping Israel off the face of the planet. But in a world where the tide of hatred against them is once again rising higher and higher – more and more are going back to their ancestral homeland in hopes that they can keep their families safe there.
Hoping is all they can do. Jews don’t get to pick between a place where it’s dangerous and a place where it’s not. They only get to guess at which place will be least dangerous. And we know how to see the writing on the walls. And across Europe, where it’s no longer safe to walk outside with any signs of “Jew” visible on you, where the political tide of hatred against them is steadily growing from the far right AND the far left, you’re already seeing them get out… get the hell out while they still can. Thankfully there is somewhere for them to go. There hadn’t been for most of their history.
Slander and libel are what fuels Anti-Semitism. For every historic catastrophe, there were strings of lies that led Jews right into torture rooms or gas chambers. A constant stream of lies is how anti-Semitism survives. And the tiny, Jewish state of Israel is the biggest target today of those lies. No doubt you’ve heard about how evil Israel is. That the Jews who live there are the new Nazi’s (an especially disgusting, but very intentional comparison). Believing those lies about Israel is no different than believing the things said by Robert Bowers about Jews before he murdered 11 of them on Saturday. It’s no different than believing the things said by Louis Farrakhan or David Duke.
Because it’s all the same lie. It’s always the same lie.
Israel is an imperfect country, like every country. But it deals with things no other country on the planet deals with and does so with far more restraint than any other country would, honestly. Nowhere else in the world is a civilian population the target of a constant stream of rockets, suicide bombers, stabbings, car-rammings, eco-terrorism (over 10,000 acres burned to the ground this year alone) and constant, world-wide, propaganda against them. Their restraint in dealing with all of this is a source of constant debate in Israel, where many of its citizens are tired of their government allowing terrorism against them to continue rather than risking collateral damage in its military response to Hamas, which uses human shields whenever it can – firing rockets from schools and hospitals – at Israeli civilian populations. But Israel knows their options, and friends, are very limited. They know it’s them against most of the world. And they know innocent people will die no matter what they decide to do – when all they want is peace.
They know that being stuck between a rock and a hard place is where they live. Always have. Always will.
No doubt you’ve heard Israel an apartheid state. Israel? The only free, liberal, democracy in the Middle east… with Arab Muslim citizens serving in the senate and on the Supreme court? A country where Golda Meir became Prime minister (and an incredible one at that) of Israel in 1969 while the U.S. has yet to elect its first woman president? Where more women are fighter pilots than any other country? That hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in the world? That provides ALL of its citizens with equal protection under the law, AND equal rights? Whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or Druze? An apartheid State?
But what do facts matter? Like Goebbels said, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. If enough people insist that Israeli soldiers shoot Arab children for sport, and the Jews drink their blood, and eat their organs… it’s got to be true, right? If Israel isn’t willing to just sit on its hands while its citizens, its women and children, are murdered in their homes and in their streets, it’s committing “genocide,” right?
In the meantime, Israel has done more since it declared its independence 70 years ago to help the world than perhaps any other country. Not just their incredible inventions and innovation in medicine, technology, agriculture, and water purification – but in their constant efforts to send people and supplies to disaster areas around the world. More than ANY OTHER COUNTRY besides the U.S… a tiny country of 8 million people.
And still, they’re universally hated & slandered. And still, every time another Israeli mother or father is murdered by a blood-thirsty terrorist, they’re just getting what they deserve.
Can we maybe give them the benefit of the doubt? Is it really too much to ask? Does there need to be no safe haven on the planet for them? Can we let them have this one place? Or do you have another suggestion? Do you think it would be different in Europe? Do you think everyone would be fine with them having a country of their own there? Do you really?
Maybe we can all just promise to be nice to them from now on. Maybe that will do the trick. Maybe if we all repeat platitudes in unison about love and unity. Maybe you can re-assure them that they don’t need their own country, that they’ll be safe here – or there, or anywhere else. “It’ll be different from now on!” you can tell them. “We promise!” you can tell them. Yeah. Then they’ll know their children will be safe. Then they’ll be able to sleep at night. Then they’ll be able to walk down the street without looking over their shoulder…
Everywhere they’ve gone, they’ve been expelled. Everywhere they’ve lived, they don’t belong. That is the history of the Jewish people. They were starved & slaughtered by the millions in Europe because they weren’t white. Now they’re the constant target of attacks because they should just go back to Europe “where they belong.” That it’s so hard for people to see the same patterns and the same hatred underlying all of it – that’s it’s so hard to see that it’s all the same lies and excuses for unending hatred – I don’t understand.
Now they have a country of their own in their indigenous homeland. Can we let them have that? Please? Is that okay with you? Do you realize how absurd it is that the entire existence of a country is something that people feel like they have the right to debate? But only the one, tiny, Jewish state. No others. Not any of the 45 Islamic states. Not one of the 15 Christian nations. Do you ever hear people having to make the statement “Denmark has the right to exist!” to people who are unconvinced? There’s no shortage of land in the Middle East, just tolerance for Jews being allowed to live there.
Jews aren’t safe anywhere for long. That’s the ugly truth. And all you need to do to help is not question their right to have and defend their own country where they can be safe from all of us.