Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dear America, time to shut up.

     I've tried, really I have. I've tried to stay quiet about the war, but the time has come; I'm going to talk, and you are going to, well, not.

     I read with great interest the public argument between two very vocal community leaders, Dr. Daniel Gordis, president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder of IKAR, a vibrant spiritual community in Los Angeles. I understand that they are friends, and they both showed due respect in their disagreement. The essence is simple; Dr. Gordis says we are allowed, even obligated to love our own children more than our neighbor's children. It's human and acceptable to protect our loved ones before protecting others. Rabbi Brous disagrees, asks us to reach, stretch our humanness beyond conventional thought and feeling, into a place where we can create a new, lasting peace on the planet.
     I agree with them both; but I agree with Dr. Gordis more.
     For me, there is a line; turns out this line is a geographic one, and only one of them lives on this side of it.
     I was born and raised in one of the most politically correct places on earth. I know what is means to be a leftist in America. I know people who are so far to the left they can't see the center. Israel is often referred to as an Apartheid state (what?), an occupation (huh?), an oppressive regime (whatever!). This knee-jerk attitude is simply part and parcel of the agenda of the Left. Most people don't really think too much about it.

     I have a close friend who is a professor at one of America's elite colleges. She once thought like this too, then she spent some time here in Jerusalem. Within a few months she realized all was not as had been presented to her. It's just not that simple. Here in Israel, the right and the left coexist; what that means is that, due to the size of the living space we all share, no one is so far away from anyone else that they are incapable of understanding their perspective. We may not agree, but we are around the same table, lovingly and respectfully (and often loudly) disagreeing. There is a saying in Israel that the right secretly hopes the left is right, and the left secretly fears the right is right.

     Essentially, we are capable of understanding the entirety of the political spectrum because we share the same experience. We all want the same thing. We all want to live; and not just live, thrive; and not just thrive, but create a lasting, thriving, peaceful culture for our children. How? On that point we may disagree. Seriously, it's not that simple.

     So, I'm going to simplify it for you. I've spent my life opening my heart. I have become capable of loving just about anyone. I have friends who are Israeli Arab, Palestinian, right, left, and center. I ache for the people of Gaza who have no hope, who are oppressed and manipulated and starved by corrupt and tyrannical leaders. I believe that most people want what I want, to live a normal life.

     But here, life is not normal. My kids are scared and stressed out. Our friends are somewhere in uniforms doing things they can't talk about. We are under fire. So to me, it's simple. As a friend once said, "Zionism is not a spectator sport." Unless you live this life, unless you are willing to run to a bomb shelter with your kids at night, then stand in line with your Arab neighbors at the supermarket the next day, I'm sorry, I just don't care about what you have to say on the subject. So please, do us all a favor and just shut up. And if you really can't shut up, it doesn't matter. I can't hear you very well from inside the bomb shelter.


  1. She's back! Great post, as always :)

  2. Dr. Gordis gets what it is to be Jewish, Rabbi Brous d oes not. We are both particular and universal. Am Yisroel Chai.