Opinion

The Burden of Being Israel

By Rabbi Stephen Fuchs

 

Once again the Mideast is in turmoil. Some even claim it is on the brink of war. Predictably, but sadly, much of the world is blaming Israel.

Let’s take a sober look at recent events. Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and brutally murdered three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. In retaliation Israeli extremists kidnapped and savagely burned to death a Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Furthermore, videos show Israeli police brutally beating Mohammed’s cousin,Tariq Khdeir. The Palestinian crime was met with cheers in the Arab world. The Israeli crime was met with shock and revulsion in the Jewish world.

Why I wonder does the world seem so much more outraged by the crimes perpetrated by Israelis against these Palestinian boys than the crimes perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis? Why does the world not take note that Israel prosecutes and punishes its terrorists, but Palestinians glorify and memorialize theirs by building parks and monuments in their names?

Why does the world begrudge the existence of a solitary tiny Jewish State when there are more than 20 Islamic (and/ or) Arab states? In Israel, Muslims serve in the Knesset and on Israel’s Supreme Court. Many are respected doctors, lawyers and business executives. By contrast, in many of the Arab states a Jew cannot legally set foot. And yet, Israel is always made out to be the villain.

There are things I wish Israel would do differently. I wish Israel would never blow up houses in retaliation for Palestinian crimes. I wish Israeli policemen would never do what they did to Tariq Khdeir, no matter what the provocation. Three armed Israeli policemen have no excuse for what they did to an unarmed Palestinian youth, and I hope these men spend years in prison for their disgraceful act.

Nevertheless, the fact remains. Israeli terror is an aberration. Palestinian terror is standard procedure. The fact also remains that Israel has been trying to live in peace with its Arab neighbors for 66 years. It is hard to make peace when you do not have a partner in the enterprise.

My prayer is that the Arab world will cease to sanction and sponsor the murderous terrorist campaign against the very existence of the Jewish State. Make no mistake. That is the issue. It is not about this border or that settlement. It is about whether or not the Arab world will countenance the existence of a Jewish state in the vast landmass of the Middle East.

At heart I do believe that one day the Palestinian rejectionists will come to realize that Israel is not going to simply disappear. One day, I pray, they will realize that it is in everyone’s best interest to live in peace and cooperation. It is in everyone’s best interest to renounce terror, and it is in everyone’s best interest to renounce the teaching of Jew and Israeli hatred that has poisoned the mind of nearly three generations of young Palestinians and other Arabs.

How long will it be until that “one day” comes? That is a difficult question. But we must persevere. We must persevere in our resistance to terror and in our pursuit of every option for a peaceful solution. We can do no more; we dare do no less.

 

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, and former president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.  He is also author of the soon-to-be-published book, What’s in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives.

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