Israel is in the Headlines

May 14, 2021 in Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Israel is in the Headlines.

You’ve seen the video, read the devastating reports and felt the grievance that the Jews under rocket fire seem to matter infinitely less to our media than the innocents in Gaza.  It feels like every time that Israel is in the news, they are aggressor, the promulgator, the instigator and the occupier.

It’s not quite as bad as it used to be. In the early 2000’s, you would see a headline like “Israeli raid injures 20 Palestinians” and only in the 5th paragraph of the article would it mention that the raid was in response to rocket fire, a terror attack or some other provocation by Hamas, Fatach or another organization. Almost never would the journalist include critical information about the terrorists hiding in schools or hospitals.

It’s absolutely, utterly tragic ,and the media is trying its best to convey that, but the ultimate question is where does the responsibility lie to prevent the recurrence of all this needless death and destruction.

This morning, the Post published this headline: “ Israeli Forces hit Hamas tunnels in Gaza as all out war looms; more rockets rain down.”  A fairly equitable headline and many interviews with Israeli military brass including a picture of infrastructure destroyed by Hamas rockets. The article still leans toward sympathy for Palestinians and a light touch when discussing Hamas’ terror tunnels.

The Times this morning said “Israel deploys ground troops to shell Gaza” an obviously biased headline which only serves to solidify their readers views of Israel as the Goliath that tramples its neighbors at will. Pictures of Gaza’s sky lit up with explosions supplement the article. There is only one picture of Tel Aviv’s walls littered with rocket holes several paragraphs down in the article.   

But some headlines you can’t run from.

According to multiple reports from Ynet and Haaretz, mobs of Jews and Arabs in the city of Lod had to be turned back by police. Arab shopkeepers were horrified to see Jewish customers and friends of theirs looting, rioting and attempting to lynch Arab neighbors.

That is utterly horrifying and despicable beyond explanation and it turns my mind to images of the capitol insurrection and white mobs in this country dating back to the 19th century. What it tells me is that there is hate, enmity, frustration and resentment that has built up over the generations and has nowhere else to go. It has turned people into instruments of destruction and it is a story that is being played out in many countries across the world. Jew against Arab, French against Muslim; Black against White; Democrat against Republican.

The truth is, as American Jews, we cannot know the reality of a people facing daily assault in their cities from terrorists who live a 30 min drive away. We cannot choose the path forward for their government any more than we can choose the journalists who report the events from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Gaza.

We equally can never understand the horror of the Palestinian people’s suffering under a regime of terror in Gaza, as their leaders use their resources for vengeance and warfare, rather than food, water and sanitation.

Ultimately, no matter what the headlines pronounce, we are at war with each other’s humanity . The commenter on the Washington Post article who called Israel a Nazi state, is not simply misinformed, they deny my love for my homeland and Jews’ right to protection and freedom in their own country. The Jewish Nationalists who violently and insultingly march through East Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim each year to proclaim their sovereignty are at war with the humanity and the dignity of the Palestinian people.

That is what the headlines ought to read. We are at war with each other’s humanity. Every time a gun is fired, a stone is thrown, a car is smashed and a business is looted we are denying the humanity of others.

The world has been on fire for some time and it will continue to burn as long as we seek the righteousness of our own beliefs, a funnel for our own anger rather than a salve for someone else’s wounds.

We may be right. We may be the unheralded victims yet again in the sordid saga of Israel and the Palestinians.

Let me share this message from myself, Rabbi Harris and Rabbi Werbin:

We learn from Berakhot 17

After his prayer, Rabbi Alexandri said the following:

May it be Your will, Lord our God,

that You station us in a lighted corner and not in a darkened corner,

and do not let our hearts become faint nor our eyes dim.

In this time of continued turmoil O God, please allow our eyes to shine with the light of others and see our fellow human beings. May the light of the Torah we receive this Shavuot holiday illumine the suffering of our friends and adversaries alike and may we continue to see every human being in the divine image. 

Shabbat Shalom


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