On top of Mt. Gerizim

"On top of Old Smoky, all covered with snow." Thus begins the classic song by American band The Weavers. The song was released in the early 50''s and bears little to no relevance to this article. Therefore, let the actual article begin now: On top of Mt. Gerizim, 2489 feet above sea level, (Stop singing now. No, really!), lies a class of high school seniors. Alas, as I write this article they are no longer there, as we all made it out alive.
    Anyway, there we sat (or stood, rather, as the ground was covered with stones and prickly bushes.) We looked out from Mt. Gerizim to neighboring Mt. Ebal, and down the valley into Shechem below. One side of the city was well planned, with tall apartment buildings, broad streets, green areas, and mosques. Fancy cars and taxis paraded down the streets, and on the sides of the road people strolled. Another side of the city had open areas for agriculture, and what appeared to be warehouses. None of what I am describing now is what provoked a blog post. No, the area that caused the problem was the refugee camp, in the distance. There, low buildings were crowded together, such that no streets were visable. Not a single tree dared to grow in this area, perhaps because there was no room. There was no color- the entire neighborhood defined the word grey. No people could be seen in this area, no cars, either. And the whole thing screamed of poverty, of unhuman- like conditions, of suffering and woe.
    Walking past, my friend had but two poignant words for this neighborhood. Two words that caused me frustration and anger. Two words that I understood so well, but could not accept. "Magia Lahem." "They deserve it. " I understand where this boy is coming from. This very boy''s mother, whilst giving birth in the hospital, was told by an Arab woman in the neighboring bed; "I hope that my son kills your son." Thus, my friend belives, and strongly so, that Arabs are evil and therefore everything they get is their own fault.
    I asked him one simple question. What about the Jews in the Ghettos during the Holocaust? Why didn''t people help them? Their answer was Magia Lahem- they deserve it. They honestly believed that the Jews were deserving of this treatment. So much Nazi propaganda, so much hatred towards the cheating, lying, stealing, ugly Jews, caused this attitude. What, I asked my friend, is the difference between these situations? His answer to me; "Well, the Jews didn''t send suicide bombers to blow up the Germans!"
Alley in Baluta Refugee Camp, Nablus. Credit: Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-3.0Alley in Baluta Refugee Camp, Nablus. Credit: Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-3.0
    Jews have been persecuted for generations. For some reason, I would think that this backround would make us a more understanding people, a people that go out of our way to stop persecution and to defend the minorities. Unfortuantely, too often we forget about our past. I remember a quote by George Santayana, ''Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'' Why are we forgetting the past? Jews need to be the first ones to stand up against discrimination, to aid human suffering, and not stand by idly. We know what it''s like to be in the other person''s shoes. How can we stand, on top of Mt. Gerizim, and not feel a little bit of pity? Years ago, in different contries, the people in those neighborhoods were Jews. And those, looking below, were Nazis. And just regular people- who did nothing.
    I''m not saying that my friend is totally incorrect, and I won''t compare Israelis to Nazis. Because there is no comparison. Period. And yes, I acknowledge that some of the people living in these neighborhoods grow up to be terrorists. And we, as victims, have every right in the world to hate them and to belive that they deserve everything bad. But, what about the rest of the people? The peaceful, normal people who live in these neighborhoods? Don''t they deserve better?
    On top of Old Smokey, all covered with snow. I lost my true lover, for courtin'' too slow.