By Yeshaia Blakeney
I hesitate to write about what’s going on in Israel. It’s a fragile issue and words are powerful. I will tread respectfully and lightly.
I remember having a heated discussion with my sister about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, not long ago. She, like many young Jewish liberals, felt that the Palestinians had been reduced to second-class citizens and were being methodically controlled and abused by the Israeli Government. She believed that the land rightfully belonged to the Palestinians and Israel had essentially taken it. I countered that Israel had changed hands many times throughout history and it would be difficult for any people to make a righteous political claim on that land, but if anyone had a claim it is the Jewish people. My sister was doing what we were raised to do, fight for the underdog. In this situation, however, there is no underdog. The Palestinians have less political and military power than the Israelis. But the Israeli’s are surely the underdog in the Middle East in general, surrounded by nations that are hostile (to say the least). I could go on and on about the historical, political, Religious, and spiritual layers of this conflict but instead I want to speak about a hypothetical. What if Hamas were in the position Israel is in with a strong military and the political advantage? We would not be talking about second-class citizenship and a war; we would be looking at genocide. I have very little doubt, that given the opportunity, Hamas would kill me, and my entire family, for the very fact that I am Jewish. I am grateful that the shoe is not on the other foot.
I have great empathy for the Palestinian people and when I see local Pro-Israel Jews ranting and raving on the streets and on Facebook it saddens me. To be “Pro-Israel” does not make me anti- Palestinian, on the contrary, Palestinians have more connection to Israel than I do; they live there. However I believe that the Israeli Government has shown great restraint and acted principally in a very difficult conflict. I believe we as Jews have the obligation to support Israel, Peace in Israel, and righteousness in Israel. I am not supporting Israel because I am Jewish, I support Israel based on the principles of liberty and justice. I believe that Israel is a just nation, and cares about the Palestinians while simultaneously “taking care of their own.” I, myself, will mourn for the losses on both sides of the conflict, and pray that Israel continues to take major risks for the sake of peace, but also with a heavy heart and much deliberation do what is necessary to protect ourselves, and keep the Jewish Homeland a just democratic nation.