Values

While I continue to closely follow events having to do with Israel and the Jewish community, it has been a while since last I put pen to paper.  There was little else I could add to the conversation, and so I abstained.

Regretfully some of the latest events require that I make my small voice heard.  I feel that we are witnessing an erosion of the values that make us human beings.  Like rising sea levels alarming us to the devastating effects of climate change, we need to be alarmed and to change our behavior.  Collectively and individually we must speak out when life is devalued and disrespected.

What am I to do when Knesset member Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party states that Reform Jews “…stab the holy Torah in the back…” and that Conservative and Reform Jews “… take the Torah and tear it to pieces, heaven forbid…”?  What am I to do when I see graphic images of Yishai Shlissel stabbing human beings?

Living in a truly global community, with electronic media bringing events to us as they happen, I witness brutal murder on a daily basis.  Some police officers in the US are quick to pull the trigger of their weapon.  Some Iranian religious leaders are quick to speak hate-filled words that will incite their followers to violence and murder.  Some Israelis are quick to light a match that will burn down a Christian house of worship or an Arab family’s home, taking innocent lives along with the arson.  Some Muslims take the teachings of the Qur’an to justify decapitating other human beings.

I do not wish to detract from the value of Black Lives Matter, nor from Je Suis Charlie.  These and many similar such movements add value to our collective humanity.  It is sad that they arose because of insensitivity, intolerance and murder.  It continues to bother me that many like me, who were prepared to lay down our lives in the defense of Israel, are seen as lesser than human by the likes of Shlissel or Gafni.

In this global community witnessing wanton destruction of historical monuments and artifacts has become almost commonplace.  We witness the brutal murder of five innocent worshipers in the Har Nof Synagogue, and the brutal murder of nine innocent worshipers in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  We witness the brutal murder of innocents, dressed in orange.  Their murderers proclaim that they carry out their atrocities in the name of Islam.

There is an almost endless list.  Assad murders his own people. Rohingya Muslims are persecuted in Myanmar.  Christians, Yazidis, Druze and other minorities are persecuted, enslaved, raped and murdered in Iraq.  Simple traffic stops have resulted in the deaths of those who were stopped.

And so it is that I can no longer abstain.  I can no longer keep my thoughts to myself, and I must express my feelings in this forum.  If not now, when?  We must become accepting of the vast spectrum of humanity.  If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…said Martin Niemöller.  And if I am only for myself, who am I?  I am speaking out.  I am making my small voice heard.  If you wish, come along.  We are all human beings.  We all deserve a place on this earth.  We are all different and so we accept those differences and we try to live as Hillel urged, “…what is not pleasant to myself, I will not do to another…”

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani (including Yom Kippur War). He resides in New Jersey.
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