Welcome to the world of the cliché. For starters, let me admit that I am on occasion as guilty as anyone else of using clichés, but when serious events take place such as has been the case recently in Israel, social media goes crazy recycling the same sentiments over and over again. To be fair, some of these sentiments are obvious ones that any normal human being would have. Case in point, the devastation everyone felt over the murder of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, and the subsequent comments that followed based in sadness and mourning. Those commonly felt sentiments are not the ones I speak of. The ones I am addressing are the different statements regarding the world’s reaction and what is oft referred to as “the way Jews act”.
I am in no position to criticize anyone, especially those who care enough to give their opinion in this difficult time. I realize that whether you make the statement that you do not care about the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir or you are as outraged by it as you are about the murder of the 3 Israeli teens, your heart is still probably in the right place. Your against murder, which makes you at least in basic terms, a good person. Here’s where I personally run into a problem. In attacking a Jew who is rightfully fed up with the treatment of our people for thousands of years, you may become part of the problem. Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, but those who have come to their own unbiased and logical conclusion, are pretty much clear on the double standard that exists when judging Jewish behavior and reaction.
“Jews don’t do that”. Don’t do what? Get angry, fight for survival, strike back? I sit here writing this today because before the Nazis ever entered Holland, my father Rabbi Nardus Groen of Blessed Memory did something Jews “didn’t do” in 1930’s Holland. He joined what was then the equivalent of the National Guard and learned how to use a gun. I go back to the phrase “Never Again” often because it is not so much a cliché as it is an approach the Jewish people need to have if they are to survive. Do we feel that mass murder of Jews can never happen again? I would like nothing more than to say there are no indications of that, but sadly we live in a world where genocidal maniacs still live and even gain popularity, putting not only Jews but other people in similar danger.
I agree that murder for the sake of murder is not the Jewish way, but I also feel passionately that is not what has taken place in Israel. Assuming the culprits of Khdeir’s murder were Jews, they are a group of people who were brought down to a tragic and horrible level by the enemies who have done everything in their power till now to get them there. Do those of you speaking of how Jews act really think that any clearheaded citizen of Israel or any Jew in the world for that matter wants to spend their time hunting down and murdering Palestinians? They do not. Unlike the enemy, we are not taught that murder is an act of holiness and honor. But these same Jewish people we speak of do have feelings and fears. Jews don’t do what? Act human? Seek justice, even if through the wrong avenues? Working on the assumption of their guilt, the behavior of some, albeit wrong and even deplorable, and of course requiring punishment, is still based in an understandably sad but human reaction. This is not an attempt to justify it, merely to address the most popular cliché of the day, “Jews don’t do that.”
The other issue has to do with how the world feels and how the world reacts. Let’s drop all the clichés and just tell it like it is. As a unit, the world does not stand behind Israel and the Jewish people. Please harbor no illusions. Yes there are many good and some great people who put themselves out there and defend us, but they are individuals who ultimately may be at risk just as we are. And when looking at how the world body really see the situation let’s just take a look at the United Nations reaction over the past few weeks. When 3 Jewish boys get kidnapped and murdered the United Nations makes a statement declaring there is no evidence it was done by Hamas. When 1 Palestinian boy gets murdered, allegedly by Jewish settlers, there is talk of a special investigation of the behavior of the settlers. And we are back to where we started. How Jews act. The world has never shown signs of favoring the Jewish position so I can’t say I am surprised by the overall reaction. But if you are Jewish, and one who supports the State of Israel and its inhabitants, I urge you to try a different cliché, like “Never Again”. It might just end of saving your life one day.
The reality is that Israel needs to do what is right for Israel and the Jewish people without concerning itself with what the world thinks. It’s hardly ever good anyway.