Why Do We Remain Silent?!

As of this writing, over the last few months, close to 25 people in Israel have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. A number of the victims are the same age as my children, all of whom have spent time in Israel. There is constant incitement to murder emanating from Palestinian Territories—and yet there is a certain reluctance, a certain quiet, across the Jewish community and the broader community. It might be changing…but it still seems too quiet.

The Palestinians consistently cry for redress of a long list of grievances and that somehow they are the victims in this story.

Everyone loves to root for the underdog. Our Jewish tradition teaches us over and over again to care for those who are weak, sick and less fortunate. This has led to very positive outcomes—Jews have been at the forefront of many developments and/or movements that have helped the broader community.

What I fear, however, is that the reflexive impulse to assist and champion the cause of those who might be perceived as weaker has put us in an untenable position–we appear compliant.  At times, we seem to be unable (or unwilling) to recognize when we are genuinely under threat–and we fail to rise up and express true anger when it is apparent that we are actually being assaulted.

Now is one of those moments. Jews and Judaism are being attacked and our heritage is being battered throughout the world. Israelis are attacked on a constant basis, our history in our homeland is being denied in UN agencies and various other forums–and we are vilified on college campuses around the world. Calls are made to boycott Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East–really, Israel?!?

Where is our anger as our brothers and sisters are killed and injured–and then condemned when they take steps to defend themselves?

Other horrific crimes by Islamic terrorists have been committed over the last few weeks in Paris, Mali and in Egypt. The world is outraged and memorials are held–rightly so.

Others protest in the streets or hold vigils…our own community should do more. Too often, it seems as though we quietly accept all of these terrible events.

Enough is enough! We must do something.

Those of us who care deeply for Israel and our brothers and sisters who live there must act. This is not about whether you are a liberal or a conservative, Democrat or Republican, observant or not. Even if you have a problem with some aspect of this or that Israeli policy (and we all of do), we must band together to protect ourselves.

And here is another key point to remember: Just because some group appears weaker or is, in fact, weaker–it does not mean their cause is just! No matter how long the list of supposed “grievances” the Palestinians and other Arab countries might have–the constant killings and incitement to terror and murder are simply wrong and without justification. All of it must end.

The language of the Palestinians and Arabs and their secular and Islamic leaders has inspired the murder of Israelis as well as American, French, British, Spanish and Russian citizens for far too long.

If any Jewish or Christian leaders were to call for any of the horrors called for by these popular leaders from the Arab world against any other ethnic group, they would be rightfully condemned and ostracized.    And when, on very rare occasions, this has occurred, these individuals have been shunned. Yet somehow the constant calls for the death of the Jews are largely met with a shrug.

In fact, however, because these hate-filled lies have been repeated so often and for so long, they have now acquired sympathetic audiences in the West.

These are blatant attempts to rewrite our history–world history.

We must take a stand and we must stop sitting quietly in our living rooms as our people are killed and the world shreds our claim to our holiest places—places where Jews have lived and places Jews have prayed to and yearned for for thousands of years.

We must do what we can to combat terror and combat the stream of hate-filled speech emanating from that part of the world. We must condemn the constant attempts to delegitimize our history and place in the world. We must do more than quietly mourn our losses and we should make it clear that it is not just something that just happens over there, in Israel, to Israelis who somehow deserve it.  We must not allow the rest of the world to view the killing of Jews as something that can be ignored.

The Christian/secular world must also wake up—if the Islamic world can rewrite the history of Jerusalem and other sites, what will that mean for the future of Christian holy places?

There will never be reconciliation among Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians or the west and the Arab world so long as they refuse to acknowledge and condemn–and fail to stop–these murderous teachings.

In the interim, we need more leaders who will ignite a sense of pride and passion and–where appropriate–anger.

So what do we do? We must channel our feelings into constructive action. More than ever we should reach out to our extended Israeli family. They need to know they are not alone. We must also continue visiting Israel. Although the media makes it appear as though it is a war zone, it is, in fact, an incredible country.  We should fight the boycott and make a point of buying Israeli products. We should make our support known in our community and religious institutions.  With renewed passion, we should let our elected officials know our feelings.  We should continue to hold our own moments of silence–and find ways to protest too. This is a time when our communities–in the US, in Israel and around the world–must pull together.

I stand with Israel. More of us need to find more ways to say it loudly and clearly–without any need for apologies.

When our grandchildren look upon the history of this time, I hope that we will be able to tell them that we did something more than sit quietly, hoping it would all blow over.

About the Author
Josh Schonfeld lives with his family in Potomac, Maryland. He is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. He has served as a board member for a number of Jewish communal organizations and is an active member of the community.