‘Black Lives Matter,” so they say. But apparently, black integrity, black honesty or black knowledge of geopolitical affairs doesn’t matter all that much. At least that’s the conclusion one would have to draw from the recent visit of these foreign troublemakers, who came to Israel to meet in solidarity with their Palestinian “brothers” and trash the “apartheid-loving” Jews. (Tell me, please, why is it that our government refused to allow the Beatles into the country in 1965, yet these lowlifes march in like they own the place?!) Never mind that Jews have a long history of supporting civil rights, even when it wasn’t fashionable. Never mind that we marched hand-in-hand with Blacks on countless freedom marches.
Never mind that the quintessential voice of Black pride, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out strenuously in praise of Zionism and the Jewish state, or that Muslims have treated Blacks as slaves and infidels for centuries.
None of that matters a whit – it’s now the “in thing” to accuse Jews and Israelis of every crime imaginable, and place at our feet every conceivable ill of society.
Yet in a way, I understand completely why these “activists” – ooh, that’s such a soft and sanitized euphemism, isn’t it? – have found a kindred spirit in the “poor Palestinians”: both are truly proficient at playing the blame game.
YOU KNOW how that works, don’t you? You ignore all your fault and foibles, you deny all your sins and shortcomings.
Instead, you blame “the other.” Anything negative that has occurred in your life – be it poverty, displacement, poor quality of life, or lack of political power – has nothing to do with you at all. It’s the other guy who made this happen, the other guy who put you in this dismal state of affairs, and who keeps you trapped there. And – what a surprise – the “other guy” usually turns out be the Jew, or his alter ego, the Israeli.
I have heard pundits sometimes proclaim that “the Palestinians are the Jews of the Arab world.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What a world of difference there is between those woeful whiners and the Jewish People. We Jews have suffered countless more misfortune and indignities – I could name at least six million off the bat – than anything the Blacks or the Palestinians have ever faced. We have been the illegitimate targets of every racist, religious fanatic and evil regime in history. We, truly, have the right to blame a cruel world for the tragedies we endured.
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But we consistently refused to go that route. We understood that blaming someone else for your problems – even when justified – only bogs you down in bitterness and recrimination and retards your forward progress, for jealousy and self-pity soak up potential like a sponge. Instead, we wiped away our tears and started over again, determined to make tomorrow better than today.
Even when half our population was cruelly wiped out in less than a decade, we did not give up nor overly dwell on our loss. We rolled up our sleeves and turned our sights on the future, and that is why Jews have excelled everywhere in the post-Holocaust Diaspora, and why, against all odds, we have built this amazing state that is one of the planet’s premier nations.
Just consider how Israel interfaces with the world at large. We have excellent relations with Russia, which tormented our people for more than a century in a vicious but vain campaign against Judaism, and then against Zionism. We are on good terms with France, despite its long history of anti-Semitism and its collaboration with the Nazis; and with England, which twice expelled the Jews from its land and brutalized us during the Mandate. Even Germany – just the word itself is hard to utter – is among our best friends and supporters in the European Union. Yes, we could have turned our nose up at all these countries and shunned them, in justified response to their past crimes against us.
But we decided it was more important to build than to blame.
THIS PAST week, we commemorated the fast of the Ninth of Av, the saddest day in our calendar, marking the two exiles from our land and the burning of our Holy Temples. The Talmud lists more than a dozen reasons why these calamities occurred: We neglected to observe the Shabbat; we lacked respect for our elders; we neglected the education of our youth; we acted with violence or hatred towards our fellow Jew, etc. All of these diverse reasons have one thing in common: they are things that we ourselves did wrong, not something which others did to us.
Were you to ask an outsider why Israel was targeted, he would no doubt give you what would seem to be the obvious, logical answer: The Babylonians and the Romans insisted we be subservient, and so when we declared our independence and revolted against them, they were forced to crush the rebellion and make an example of us. But that, the Talmud makes clear, is one reason that doesn’t make the list. The rabbis, in their succinct style, inform us that “the enemy was simply grinding already-ground flour.” In other words, we, by our own actions or inactions, sealed our own fate. The Babylonians and the Romans were merely instruments of God’s will.
Every good parent knows that when a child gets lazy or incorrigible, and shirks his rightful duties, he may require a good “kick in the pants” to put him back on the right path. What the Palestinians and their misguided supporters need is not to be coddled, or have their persecution complex pampered and praised.
What they need is a strong kick in the tuches by the world community, and told flat out that instead of blaming everyone else for their perceived suffering, they should stop their bellyaching and make something out of themselves. The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana and a member of the Ra’anana City Council; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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