One kid: Israel and the class bullies

Israel is like that one little boy in a class of bullies whose father told him that if he held steady, he would outlast all of his opponents.

The Schechter Haggadah (photo credit: .)
The Schechter Haggadah
(photo credit: .)
Growing up, there was one kid in our class who seemed to take more abuse than all the other kids combined. He was mercilessly picked on and called all kinds of hurtful names by his classmates. They shunned him, they wouldn’t study with him or even lend him a pencil when his own broke. They blamed him for anything and everything that went wrong in school, and refused to let him join any of the cliques or clubs that spring up among students. They even threatened any children who did associate with him, warning them that they, too, would be ostracized if they were caught hanging around this kid.
The principal tried many times to make peace between the kid and the other students, but it rarely helped. Even if there was a truce, it never lasted long, and soon the bullies were back at it all over again. All the principal could do was urge the kid to stay strong, not to give in or give up, and reassure him that one day, justice would prevail and he would no longer be terrorized.
In the kid’s neighborhood, the situation was essentially the same. Agroup of rowdies made fun of him and didn’t want to play with him. Hewas never invited to the football or basketball games thatspontaneously occurred in the local park. If he did try to join, theyeither booed him off the field, or sometimes even summarily ended theirgame, just so that he couldn’t participate. On several occasions, theyyelled curses at his house, and even threw stones or rotten eggs at hiswindow.
The kid’s father was terribly upset about all this,because he knew that his son hadn’t done anything wrong and deserved tobe treated decently by the other kids. But all he could do was teachthe boy to defend himself and stick to his guns, not to lose faith inhimself nor sink to the level of his detractors. “Don’t let it get yourgoat,” said dad wisely. “In the end, time heals all wounds, and woundsall heels.”
THE “KID,” of course, is Israel. We are surroundedby bullies on all sides. Syria rebuffs our efforts at reconciliationand joins with Iran in threatening our existence, pouring the bulk ofits meager income into buying more and more weapons that are pointedour way. Lebanon – having capitulated into becoming essentially asatellite state of Iran – whines that “all our problems are caused byIsrael.”
Even the neighbors “at peace” with us are anythingbut friendly: Egypt demonizes us at every opportunity, even declaringlast week that its synagogues are not Jewish property, but rather“Egyptian historical sites.” And in Jordan, anyone who dares quote theIsraeli point of view in the media – let alone interview an Israeli –is ceremoniously drummed out of the press corps or thrown into prison.
Asfor the Palestinians, they roam the planet, denying our ancient link tothe land, inventing all kinds of blood libels against the Jews andbegging the nations not to have any dealings with us, even as wesolicit donations for them and seek a peaceful coexistence. The morehostile among them plot acts of murder and violence, confident thatwhatever crimes they commit, Israel will be held at fault by the UN andthe world at large.
Not for nothing did the authors of the Passover Haggada choose to end the Seder with the little ditty of “Chad Gadya.”For as glorious as the saga of Pessah is to us, as wonderful as ourliberation from Egypt, our ascension of Mount Sinai and our conquest ofIsrael are, the story does not end there. There would be centuries ofexile and emancipation, persecution and perseverance in the face ofcountless regimes and rulers. We would be scattered to the four corners of the earth, enduring greathardship and prejudice along the way. Yet we would keep our cultureintact, never abdicating our peoplehood, proud of our manyaccomplishments achieved in an atmosphere of absolute adversity.
In the end, we would never lose faith in our mission. For we knew thatfather, the Almighty, was watching over us and guiding us along thistenuous, sometimes treacherous, trek through history. If he heldsteady, and did not falter along the way, that one little kid wouldoutlast all of his opponents and detractors. He would be bruised, butnever bowed. He would be vindicated in his quest for truth and wouldyet reclaim the glory that was his destiny.
The promise of Pessah – summed up in the cry, “Next year in Jerusalem”– would certainly be fulfilled, along with the grudging recognitionthat our cause is just. That is the essence of Passover – I kid you not.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana.