Pushcart Prize nominee, KJ Hannah Greenberg wrote JPost's "Old/New World Discourse...
Sun,Apr 20,2014 20 Nisan 5774
On the one hand, we are related to Ishmael. His descendents, in times of clarity, celebrate this connection. Consider Iraqi poet Alaa Alsaegh’s work, “Cries from the Heart of the Holocaust,” which was posted on Arabs for Israel. On the other hand, those same others remain ferocious in their reaction to any self-declared friend of the Jews. Alaa Alsaegh, in broad daylight, in a populous American city, was attacked by Muslim men and was mutilated for his act of sympathizing with us. Brotherly love this ain’t.
Why is there so much hatred? Part of the answer is that hatred is woven into the social agendas of other nations. Muslim politicos, alongside of contemporary leaders of Islam, decry Israel’s existence. Another part of the answer is that even those world denizens, whom don’t support such extremes, do turn a blind eye to language promoting such loathing. Nonie Darwish writes in “Why Muslims Must Hate the Jews,” posted on American Thinker. Com., that “it is at the heart of Islamic theology that world peace will be established only when all the Jews are wiped from the earth. But few people in Western media are alarmed by this kind of rhetoric or care to expose this dreadful dark side of Islam's obsession with Jew-hatred.”
Consider the values iconicized in poetry fashioned by other Arab poets and consider the world’s reaction to those texts. Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik report in “EU-funded Palestinian NGO Glorifies Hijackings, Terror, and Hatred of Israel and the US,” posted on Palestinian Media Watch, that much discourse emanating from the Middle East glorifies plane hijackings and threatens Israel and the United States. In venues such as a Palestinian Authority TV program for youth, Speak Up, teenage hosts encourage Arab teens to engage in acts of violence and do so with impunity. Marcus and Zilberdik surmise that “European countries, the UN and other well-intentioned donors [that] fund programs that seem to be positive for Palestinian youth, [fail to realize that] these programs glorify terrorists or promote hatred.”
Despite the awfulness of sword-waving Arab rhetoricians and despite the thoughtlessness of the international community that funds them, the biggest component of our ongoing crisis of hatred is neither our inability to “work peaceably” with other Semites nor the global population’s casting off of its responsibilities to Israel. Historically, we have been an unloved, much maligned people, who have thrived, surviving many hostile regimes, with the help of Hashem, nonetheless.
Today, however, it seems as though we are less wonderful. The worst aspect of our crisis is that our agenda remains largely discarded by us. Simply, we don’t act as though we care about ourselves. Mull over the fact that a few weeks ago, when we were being targeted by enemy ballistics, our convergent media rang with calls to arm and with words of bravery.
Words are cheap. Cheap products get quickly thrust aside. Our news now is of the Jewish child gunned down in Connecticut and of the forthcoming national elections in Israel. Somehow, very quickly, we have managed to drop the imperative topic of our continued existence. It’s up to us to care.
Caryn Lipson suggests in “This is My Territory,” posted on In A Good Place Thoughts about Life in the Holy Land, that whereas “[w]hen one talks about being American, Canadian, Israeli, British, Ethiopian, Russian, etc., it’s very often a cultural identification, rather than a geographic one,” when one talks about being Israeli, it is both a cultural and a geographic naming. We are Jewish. Israel is our Jewish Home.
We are more than grievously negligent when we forget the significance of keeping the issue of self-preservation first and foremost in our hearts, in our mind, and in our media. It is up to us to deal with our ethnic relatives’ aggressions. We must stand up to their assaults. We must not minimalize any act of hostility that we discover whether those acts are comprised of words or of blood.
As expressed in “Israel: the Holy Land,” on Chabad.org, “[f]or a Jew, the Land of Israel is more than a place. It is a body for the soul of a people. As Yom Kippur is to the Jewish year, so Israel is to the Jewish space: a place to find where you began, where you belong and what you truly are. A Jew does not travel to Israel, but returns there.” A Jew making aliyah does not merely buy an apartment in Tel Aviv or does not merely enroll in a school in Beer Sheva, but subsumes Jewish history. This insight is truth, not choice.
We must not only integrate an awareness of the nature of the Jewish Nation and of Eretz Yisrael, the Land of the Jews, into our personal and collective selves, but we must, as well, continue to defy global pressure to stop developing our self-love. That is, we must build up our roads, our schools, and our villages. We must demand of ourselves that we defend our land. We must insist on the safety of all of our dear ones (A parsimonious take on this matter is given in the new, entirely wonderful, animated YouTube Video, “Terror in the Schools,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbdnu_R9G40, which was produced by the group Scratch, “in response to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict).
To be Jewish is to protect our Jewish Homeland. To be Jewish is to back Jews. “Eliora” writes in “A Gap-Year Student: I Took Peace for Granted,” posted on Stop the Rockets: Social Task Force for Israel, that she never imagined she would be in jeopardy. Yet, she was. Yet, we are. As long as we are more afraid of what other nations and persons think of us, and as long as we are guilty of focusing on keeping up, socially, economically, or otherwise, with the real or imagined people in our lives, specifically, as long as we fail to make Israel the most important of our concerns, we are in danger.
The continuity of Judaism requires us to secure ourselves now, completely. Our cousins are brutal to us. The rest of the world, at best, is apathetic about our cause. We must manifest sufficient focus on our survival, in partnership with The Boss, to buttress ourselves. Now. Immediately. Forever.