This is not like my usual blogs. The situation in the Middle East has led to an extraordinary number of anti-Israeli comments on my Facebook site. Criticism may be justified, but the ones I've seen are out of all proportion to, and far, far more abusive than, comments about other current world conflicts and events that challenge human rights.
If you have read my blog about my visit to Israel a year ago, you will see that the impression currently being circulated, of Israel being a war-mongering, racist country is far from the truth. They long to live in peace with their neighbours, as they have longed to do for 60 years.
I have toyed with how to deal with this, whether to ignore the comments in order not to make a bad situation worse. I thought about 'unfriending' these people, but then decided I'd rather know what they're saying than drive it underground, so to speak. Then someone (I don't know her but we have a common 'friend') commented on yet another incendiary message, this one left by our mutual 'friend'.
Her response said it all, and I can do no better than to repeat it here (it was set at 'public' on Facebook) and to also repeat my response to her. I would beg and implore my readers to take a more considered view. Can't these bad-mouthers see that they are doing just what they accuse the Israelis of doing, whipping up hatred and creating conflict?
She wrote: 'Being someone who embraces many religions and none, being a huge advocate for PEACE, and also being someone who has friends and relatives that are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist et al I go with several points. The entire world, the Western world, mostly Christians, stand by, stood by for almost a century now of vicious attacks on a very pious people, most of Jews being educated peacemongers in the last 20 Centuries. Remember the Black September movement and the killing of the Israeli Olympians? No huge global attack or outcry against those thugs. Israel always goes it alone. Arafat elected and re-elected ? Since 2005 at least 1000 attacks and suicide bombers etc in Israel and no one wants to help with that, and no other country would stand for it. The mess there is like abortion, no one wants one and it is a mess but sometimes unavoidable. My younger friends fight hard TOGETHER for peace there. In PEACEFUL ways. Jews and Muslims working together and also loving each other. Waiting for a gov't to fix anything is ridiculous but they have a right to defend themselves. Palestinians and Israelis need to elect PEACEMONGERS ! Please do not think anyone like me knows all the answers but I have a lot of personal insight and I see many do not know much except what media selling military solutions or the anti-semites say.'
My response: 'I don't know you, but I congratulate you for having the guts to put into words what others of us are thinking. I am decidely not a Zionist, but every time I open Facebook and see yet another anti-Israeli tirade, I feel sick. You are right - if this amount of media and hate propaganda were directed at other conflicts as well, it would not seem so sinister. I'm not defending what Israel is doing, and its current actions are in any case counter-productive. I wonder how many of these self-righteous comments come from people who have actually been there and really know anything about the situation other than what the media feeds them. How many of them have had a bad word to say about the barbarity taking place in Syria? Or in the Rhakine area of Burma, or the daily abuse of women in places like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, to name but a few of the many far worse atrocities taking place across the globe. I feel helpless and quite distraught.'
Israeli Reform Rabbi Arik Ascherman put it this way:
"Most of us have biases burned into our hard drives. If our sympathies lie with the Palestinians, we see Zionist aggression and charred Palestinian babies. If our sympathies lie with Israel, we see terrified Israeli children with 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter every time the siren sounds (According to one source, some 11,000 rockets in the last 4 years.). For all too many of us, our sympathies are all encompassing and exclusive. We see only Palestinian children or Israeli children."
The Rabbi ended by referring to this and a future week's Torah portion:
"In this week’s Torah portion, Esau is driven into a murderous rage after Jacob cheats him yet again. Jacob flees for his life, and will live in exile for twenty years. Both feel themselves to be the victims.
In two weeks, we will read that two older and wiser men will find God in each other.
May that day come soon...."
So this is my heartfelt plea to you all . This conflict is a tragedy for all involved and it does not help to further inflame minds and stir up hatred. If you must google extracts about this conflict, then please google the peace-makers and paste some of the comments many Israelis and Palestinians have made in their efforts to reach out the hand of friendship to one another.