Yes, they are Jews

Yesterday was just another day on Facebook. Another sad day on Facebook. Given that I live outside Israel and I can´t rely on the British media to inform me of the attacks and stabbings that regretfully are happening on a daily basis, I find myself turning to Facebook, where many of my Israeli friends make an excellent job of filling this void.

What I read saddened me. Two Jewish men killed in Jerusalem. One of them was an Aish rabbi (I can´t speak highly enough of Aish, but that´s for another post). Both of them good men. Both of them husbands and fathers.  Both of them killed just for being Jewish. And both of them ignored by mainstream media.

I wanted to learn more about them and send strength to my friends in Israel, and when the media shamefully keeps silent, I also turn to Facebook looking to connect with my friends there.

So I kept scrolling down my Facebook.

And suddenly what I saw had nothing to do with the murder in Jerusalem. However, it was to do with Israel. There were Jews in it. Although it didn’t elicit in me the slightest wish for connection.

Someone had shared a video that made the hair in the back of my neck stand up. It showed many people dancing at a wedding – supposedly the wedding of two well-known far right Jewish activists. The guests were dancing, happily jumping up and down, but this is where the resemblance to any other Jewish wedding I´ve attended ended. Because they were carrying weapons – knives, guns – and a photo of a baby that they were repeatedly stabbing. Upon reading my friend´s comments I realized that the baby in the photo was Ali Dawabshe, the Palestinian baby who was burned to death in Duma.

It was simply despicable. I was shocked to the core. I read comments and more comments. Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and non-Israelis. Everyone had something to say, but all I could do was condemn the video. I went to bed disgusted yet still very sad about the two dads who were murdered in Jerusalem.

And I am still struggling to make sense of it all.

If I am honest, the first reaction I had upon seeing the video was to brush off the incident. Oh, they are just a few radicals. The vast majority of Jews are not like that. Jewish terrorism is nothing compared to Palestinian terrorism. Just a bunch of nutters.

Then I felt worried. This stupid people! Who posted this terrible video? Don´t we have enough anti-Zionism? All we need is the world to see this!

Immediately, I felt rage. Why are some Jews so quick to denounce this video yet so quick to assert that “Palestinian terrorism doesn´t happen in a bubble” and partially put the blame on Israel?

I believe that my feelings are valid. The video is confusing and plain scary. But still, we need to do something about it! It just that…How can we deal with this without giving ammunition to our enemies and without widening the divide between us? If only I had the answer…

There is something undeniable. Most Jews are not like that. And yet, how easy it would be, to brush things off. Just like that. They are not like us. We are not all like them and we don´t have anything to do with them.

Except that like it or not, those guests poisoned by extremism and radicalism, who entered the dance floor carrying weapons dripping hatred, venom and evil, are indeed Jewish. Those guests whose version of the mitzvah of rejoicing with the bride and the groom entails stabbing the photo of an innocent baby are Jewish. You might argue that that is not what our beautiful, holy Torah says. Of course not! In my brief stay in sem, in my shabbatot in Har Nof, in my visit to Hevron, never did I encounter such extremism.  And it kills me when some people imply that all religious or right-wingers are extremists.

But that doesn´t change the fact that the people in the video are Jewish. It hurts me, it embarrasses me. But they are our brothers and sisters.

And just like Muslims are not going to stop ISIS by saying “They are not real Muslims”, we are not going to stop this hate by saying “They are not real Jews”. They are real Jews, and just like Yair Lapid rightly said, they are being incited by local leaders and people who wrongly call themselves rabbis. It is our duty to speak up against these radicals who want to infiltrate our holy religion and our people.

Likewise, we are not going to solve the problem by equating Jewish terror to ISIS or to terror against Israelis. I read a few comments about that, and my stomach is still turning. I know a few Jews who go to great lengths to meet Palestinians in Ramallah, or to reach out to Arabs in Israel for the purpose of understanding their perspective. Funnily enough, this same people would never go to Kyriat Arba to meet with residents and understand what it is like for Jews who live there.Do you think there is no justification for the shameful behavior at the wedding, no matter what their daily suffering might be like? I agree with you! Just please, if you think that way, make it clear – and please say it out loud – that there is also no justification for terror against Israelis.

Please, let´s not use this video and other despicable attacks such as the one in Duma to bash a segment of Jews. Let´s not give these barbaric guests who corrupt our religion more publicity than what they deserve. Let´s not let our rightful indignation and worry be used as ammunition for anti-Zionists. But please, let´s not pretend that those guests are not part of us – because they are. Let´s keep united in our differences, let´s close the divide that threatens to engulf us and work together to cure this cancer before it spreads.

And let´s not forget that ultimately, wed better work together and stick together because our enemies –  despite of our differences – only care about the fact that we are Jews. And sadly, yesterday in Jerusalem there were two spouses and nine orphans who could attest to that.

About the Author
Born in Spain, Mazal Oaknin established herself in London in 2007, where she teaches at University College London. Since then, her head has been bubbling with stories, ideas and jokes, and she can't wait to get them off her chest on this blog.
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