Jew: You want to do what is right and what is humane. You want to live up to your own cherished values and you want the values of your nation to be true to those you were brought up to see as the values of your tradition and the sages, whether you are religious or not. And then these values come into a collision course with the equally important values of self-respect and survival.
We were taught that THIS life (this incarnation, perhaps) is not of lesser significance than after-death, no less significant than the rewards or punishments we can expect upon moving on to the next realm of existence. THIS LIFE must be protected. And we are our brothers’ keepers.
We did not do well with keeping Ari Fuld and Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi and countless others who were stabbed, shot, hit with rocks, run over. Who is next? Has it already been written? We did not do well (and still are not) with the wildlife and plant-life, natural and sown, on the other side of our Land. For how long? Has that also been written?
I guess what I am wondering about is how we make sure our boundaries are clear, how we protect ourselves, how we weigh the actions we must take in order to be our brothers’ keepers, truly, while not betraying our other values.
Does that mean we bulldoze villages that raise an inordinate proportion of terrorists? Does that mean we expel entire families and not just demolish their homes, or more ridiculously a single room in the home? Does that mean that out of self-respect we stop providing electricity and water they do not pay for, stop providing health care in our hospitals when mothers are not embarrassed to admit they want to raise the child we just saved to be a Jew-killing martyr? Have we carried our fear of committing collective punishment too far?
But, what if our finally standing up for ourselves puts the Khaled Abu Toameh’s and Bassem Eid‘s (the ones whose names we all know and those who are too scared to speak up publicly), and their families, into the collective we decide we need to strike out against? What about this individual we meet at a neutral place so we can talk, or invite to our homes? Of course we cannot visit them in their homes because they live behind big red signs that say Jews Not Allowed. But they come into ours and we meet them at coffee shops in the Gush, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ariel. How can we put someone we have shared coffee with into the collective punished because of the terrorism that is part and parcel of their larger society?
The same way, perhaps, that we put into the collective Kim and Ziv’s murderer who did not care that they used to work together? The same way we put into the collective the terrorists who stabbed the bosses who invited them to lunch with them at their family table?
If knowing someone’s name, if having close contact for years, did not protect them from being a bulls-eye on the terrorist target, how can we trust anyone? Is being a friend protection?
Just having to reflect on this pains me and weighs heavy on my heart. My whole body trembles. But God-forbid my contemplation be mistaken for weakness. I will struggle with these conflicting values — we will struggle with these conflicting values — and I feel caught up in the undertow in a raging sea. We will come up to the surface for air, our will to survive against all odds not the least bit impaired.The point is coming near when we will say: Enough! And we will make a din so loud that our leaders will come to their senses. It is not only Four Mothers who can change government policy, is it!