Upside Down as the New Normal

UNESCO voted against Israel yesterday. No shocking news here. Lovers of Israel have become numb to the prejudice and vitriol displayed towards the Nation State of the Jewish people by all institutions that begin with the letters UN.

The so-called Human Rights organization announced that The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where Abraham is entombed – Abraham, the father of Ishmael and Isaac, and patriarch of the Muslim and Jewish faiths – is an endangered space for the Palestinian people.

Some found it newsworthy that an unnamed ambassador privately apologized to an Israeli statesperson for the vote he cast on Hebron. His excuse was an admission that he did not mean to do harm but had to follow the public party line of hating Israel.

This behavior is indeed rare, but not uncommon in Israel.

When Menachem Begin chose to bomb the nuclear reactor in Osrik, Iraq, the United Nations condemned the Jewish State. But, in the halls of the Family of Nations, Israeli leadership was privately congratulated and applauded for their heroic act that cut off a maniacal and rogue leader and his evil ambitions. The neighboring Arab countries whispered appreciation and shortly after chanted condemnation. This is reality in Israel.

Shimon Peres (z’l) had a cordial relationship with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia but, they could rarely be seen in person, nor could they shake hands in front of the press. In public, Saudi Arabia was a sworn enemy of Israel. Privately, Saudi Arabia hoped Israel would rid them of their biggest cancer, Iran and hoped Peres was their partner in this pursuit. The enemy of their enemy was indeed, their best chance to rid them of their malignancy and was seen as their potential friend….but only in private. The record would unequivocally show that Israel was to be cursed and despised when brought up in the public square in Riyadh. But in the back boardrooms, it was Israel that was seen as a new ally and the great hope.

In Western society, we are wired to speak kindly to one’s face yet some speak less glowingly behind another’s back. I do not condone such behavior although, we often seem saccharine and fake to one’s face and more honest, raw and candid when in private. When it comes to Israel, it is the opposite. Neighbors and states-people of countries around the world speak unkindly, callously and devoid of empathy towards Israel in public yet, in private they support, express regret over their countries decisions against Israel, and praise the actions of Israel in private. Israel is always held to a second standard that underscores the unfairness and inequality Zionists battle far too often.

Jewish tradition tells us that we should strive to make our outsides match our insides, (Exodus). This is a call for us to be sincere and authentic in public and in private. It sure would be nice if our neighbors had the courage to vote their conscience at the UN and demonstrate some valor regardless of what their state thinks they should say and do. Our world could be a better place when we do not have to apologize nor ask forgiveness privately for the attack made in public.

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, President of the NJ Board of Rabbis and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel commission and is a National Council member of AIPAC.
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