Hi there. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. But while I understand that, you think that you have me all figured out.
“Leftist,” you wrote about my friend, and the word was heavy with an unspoken j’accuse. Except you didn’t leave it unspoken for long: You went on to spew words like “anti Israel activist”, “anti Jewish”, and “traitor”.
I asked you why, and you listed your answers. Most of them were baseless allegations. Some of them were facts: My friend believes in the two state solution. She fights for religious freedom. She cares about the “democratic” part of the “Jewish democratic state”.
But you know what? If these positions make one a “leftist”, then I, and many other people from the political right and center, are “leftists”. And you know what else? if these positions make my friend a “traitor”, then I am a “traitor” too.
People like you are not interested in seeking truth. You decided what your truth is a long time ago, and now you twist the world to fit your views. I disagree with you? I must be ignorant. I point out your factual mistakes? I must be one of those pitiful people who stick their nose in the specific, completely missing the big picture. I disagree with you still? Well, then I am a traitor as well.
In your world, people fit into black and white boxes. And the box titled “traitor” is quite big. It grows whenever someone disagrees with you.
Thing is, there is no point in arguing with you. Like conspiracy theorists, you will just work my words into your worldview somehow. You will just say that I am misguided or immoral or traitor traitor traitor, so why bother?
So really, this letter is not for you. It’s for all the people out there who refuse to fit into the neat little boxes that others designed for them. It’s for the people who, by being who they are, prove that humanity is richer than you will ever grasp.
It’s for my friend whom you called a traitor, whose passion for life and justice is one and the same as her passion for Zion. Because how can she be a Zionist and not try to make the Jewish state a better place?
It’s for my settler friends who work for coexistence with the Palestinians.
It’s for my Arab friend who fights against Human Rights violations… in the PA.
It’s for my right wing friend who strongly opposes “Breaking the Silence”, but is the first to call for justice when specific cases of Human Rights violations make the news.
It’s for my straight religious friends who went to support gay friends in the Gay Pride Parade, and it’s for my religious friends who didn’t, but condemned Shira Banki’s murder on the next day.
It’s for my lesbian friend who respects my beliefs though they clash with her life choices.
It’s for my secular friend who loves Judaism, and dedicated his life to Jewish learning.
It’s for my self proclaimed “hawkish” friend, who believes in greater Israel but goes every week to protest against racism in Jerusalem’s center of town.
It’s for my friend who only votes Likud and Jewish Home, and cares for her Arab patients with empathy and love.
It’s for my Zionist Muslim friend, and for my Christian friend who loves my strong Jewish identity.
And it’s for my fellow Jewish friends who fight for religious freedom in the Jewish state, and believe that “Jewish” and “democratic” don’t have to contradict each other.
My friends, you are the people who dance through life with your minds open and your hands outstretched. You, and those like you, are the people who agree and disagree and sometimes argue but always, always learn.
In some people’s eyes, you are all “traitors” to this or that cause.
And, dear “traitors”, I wanted to thank you. The ancient Sodomites, according to the midrash, forced their guests to sleep on a uniform-sized bed. Whoever didn’t fit was cut down to size. Some people want to restore this ancient practice. They want us to cut away parts of ourselves, and fit into their neat black and white boxes.
And they think they can tell us what these boxes say about our souls.
Thank you for proving that we don’t have to comply. Thank you for making our world more thought-provoking and diverse.
Thank you, in short, for being you.