We Are All Jews!

The most moving aspects of today’s Solidarity March in Paris were the alternating chants: “I am Charlie!” and “We are all Jews!”  The scene which drew millions was inspiring as people of all backgrounds, ages, races and religions peacefully assembled and walked arm-in-arm erasing all differences — at least for today!  The chants supported the right of free speech and support for the Jews of France.

One of the biggest grossing films that played to international audiences was “Independence Day” which debuted on July 4th. Brought together by the global threat of alien annihilation, the world united in the common cause of survival and victory — and at the head of this spontaneous and intoxicating Unity was the President of the United States.

When world leaders from around the globe came together, where was President Obama, Vice-President Biden or even Secretary of State Kerry? The United States sent the Attorney General, while other countries at the highest levels marched with the millions.  One could see in a single line of solidarity — the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and France, Netanyahu and, even curiously Abbas. Why was the United States so poorly represented?  Nevertheless, would this media stage have any sustaining impetus toward global peace and unity? One would hope.

What was the import of the words, “We are All Jews!”, an outcry that first came from the lips of France’s Prime Minister, and then bellowed through the sea of people throughout Paris?  Even the TV news stations that have been disturbingly consistent in being Anti-Israel, reported this incredible declaration to the world audience.

One must remember — and we have easily forgotten — that the Patriarch Abraham — whose very name means, Father of Nations — was the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, from whom would originate Islam and Judaism.  From Isaac would come Jacob and Esau, the latter brother being the seed of Christianity.  While sibling rivalry and ideological differences polarized these brothers and sons, the truth be told — they all had Jewish roots.

The chant that echoed through the Solidarity March penetrated all the divisiveness of centuries of bigotry, prejudice, persecution and blame. It momentarily erased the layers upon layers of perceived irreconcilable differences and bared the core truth.  The fact that this declaration was made on the same stage as Netanyahu and Abbas appeared is even more incredible!

There is the proverbial question of whether you see the glass half empty or half full.  The vantage point of the onlooker reveals his negativity and pessimism OR his positivity and optimism. I have taught my Torah students that, from my perspective, the glass is always FULL — it invariably has some measure of liquid and the balance occupied by air.  None of it is empty!

Can we take from this day any sense that what appear as gulfs that cannot be bridged, ideologies that are hopelessly at odds and divisive, could actually be, stripped of what is different, a commonality that may, if emphasized and seen by the Third Eye of these Three Major Religions, raise a new consciousness?

Today may have been the discovery of a new path, which may unite the moderate and nonviolent peoples regardless of religion.  If those numbers, splintered and combative over the ages, could come together, they could obliterate the false rhetoric, the evil propaganda and the brutality of extremists.  Those extremists — in this age in the personage of radical Islam — could be diffused, isolated and defeated as they must be!

If the media would report the news as it really is, if funding of terror could dry up, and if strong measures were adopted to deter terrorists from being trained, from moving freely in our midst, and from waging war by being met by a massive, united opposition, we could finally have peace on earth. Instead of fanning the flames of Anti-Semitism, maybe the world could drown out those voices that would divide and destroy by saying in response to hate that “We are All Jews!”

So that the reader does not see this as a call for mass conversion — of the three religions, Judaism is the only one that has not had a history that had as its mandate the conversion of others — it is the import of that cry, beyond religion, and to the heart of human decency and Good, that I write these words. May God give us strength to carry this day into all days so that we may see the day when “nation shall not lift sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war anymore”!

About the Author
Naphtali Perlberger is a Senior Lecturer for AISH HaTorah and gives Parsha HaShavua shiurim at Young Israel of the Main Line. He is one of the founders and a past president of the Philadelphia Community Kollel. He is Founder & President of Philadelphia Chapter of Children of the Holocaust, and past FJA Chairman of Men's Organizations; talk show host for a radio show, "G-d is Listening" and former radio news broadcaster. Currently President of Kosloff Torah Academy High School for Girls.