Helen Joyce

Topsy Turvy

Strange how the world has turned topsy-turvy, totally confused, disordered. With its head down and underside up. Words I thought I understood and could apply sensibly to the world around me have suddenly become inverted. Words like ‘genocide’ – the one Israelis are supposedly inflicting on the Palestinians.

Genocide? The intentional destruction of a people in part or whole? From the foundation of the State of Israel, Jews have held out an olive branch to the Arabs surrounding this tiny country hoping to live in peace as neighbours. What have we reaped? War. Only war, murder and mayhem. Of course, far too many have been killed on all sides, but which side chants for ethnic cleansing from the ‘river to the sea’? Nothing less than a call to genocide.

Ethnic cleansing. There’s another interesting term. 21% of Israel’s population is Palestinian Arab with full rights of citizenship. And the proposed new State of Palestine? Will be ‘Judenrein’ like most other Arab countries. Currently the IDF has repeatedly urged the beleaguered, suffering civilian population of Gaza to temporarily leave the north and seek shelter in the south. These calls are a humanitarian effort to save innocent lives and allow the IDF to proceed in its internationally agreed mission to wipe out the terrorists of Hamas. Hamas is forcibly preventing their evacuation to safety and, in an effort to be humanitarian, we are accused of attempting ethnic cleansing?

Humanitarian. Here’s another confusing term. Defined as ‘concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare’, we know that Israel is a first responder to every natural and manmade disaster. Its expert rescue teams and field hospitals are among the first on the scene around the world when the need arises. Attempts to move Gazans out of harm’s way, far from being an example of ‘ethnic cleansing’ are in fact part of their ongoing humanitarian effort.

Yes, allowing aid convoys and fuel into the Gaza strip raises a significant ethical dilemma. An ethical dilemma is not about some kind of choice between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. That is no dilemma at all! An ethical dilemma is the problem of choosing between two ‘rights.’ Of course, it would be the right thing to supply innocent civilians with aid, but Israel is forced to choose between this and a second ‘right’. To deprive Hamas of the means to prolong its campaign of terror.

Hamas has ruthlessly appropriated billions in international aid monies to supply its own evil underground empire. It has even repurposed water pipes, sent to address the shortage of drinking water, to make some of the rockets fired at Israeli civilians! We should resupply them so that they can kill more of us? Oh, and talking about ‘humanitarian’, what about Hamas’ devilish cynicism in hiding military assets – even its headquarters – in and under vulnerable institutions: hospitals, schools and kindergartens? This – not striking against legitimate military targets, even if they are hidden thus – is the blatant war crime under international law. So, Hamas perversely flips the sympathy card of the suffering it is creating. They hide like cowards because they know Israel will strike in defense. And then try and blame us for their crimes.

But when I see thousands – hundreds of thousands – of people marching through the world’s capital cities with the slogans ‘Israeli genocide’ ‘From the river to the sea’ and other perverse condemnations of the wrong people, I think of the Havdala, the ceremony which marks the separation of Shabbat our calm and beautiful weekly day of rest and the rest of the week. A day which was so hideously defiled three weeks ago in the quiet Kibbutz communities in the south of the country.

We hold a cup of wine, light a candle and recite a blessing with three elements. We bless God who distinguishes between the holy and profane, light and darkness and, last but not least, Israel and the nations. At this point we douse the flame in the wine, so extinguishing the light of Shabbat. It struck me how symbolic this is of our situation right now. Can the world not distinguish between what is right and what is wrong; holy and profane. Do we no longer distinguish between the light and the darkness? Can the world not see the profound difference between Israel and its murderous neighbours? Topsy-turvy. Has the entire world turned topsy-turvy?

About the Author
Helen is the author of award-winning Good for a Single Journey, a four generational family saga based on a true story, published by Amsterdam Publishers in 2023. Born in London to Jewish refugees from Hitler, Helen studied Psychology at University College London and went on to specialise in clinical research and relationship counselling. She taught Psychology in Immanuel College, Bushey where she was Head of Sixth Form (Grades 12 and 13). Helen retired to Israel in 2013.
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