My mother was born in Cairo, Egypt to Jewish parents. In 1948, when she was 4, her family moved to the newly formed State of Israel. My father was born in Blackpool, England in 1938. He went to Israel in 1960 as a volunteer on a kibbutz. He learned Hebrew and joined the IDF. They met on Kibbutz Gadot in 1963. My dad was 25, my mother 19, and both were serving in the IDF. He saw her and vowed to marry her before they ever spoke a word to each other. They were married on Kibbutz Nahsholim in 1964. My sister was born ten months later in Hadera, then I was born in Be’er Sheva in 1966.
My father served in the IDF during The Six Day War in 1967, and in 1968 my parents decided to leave Israel with their two young daughters. We first went to England, then immigrated to Canada. The first time I returned to Israel was when I was 18 years old. I was set to go for two weeks and stayed 18 months. It has now been 30 years since I was there. I am not an expert on Israel and cannot speak about the political, religious, social, or economic aspects of life there. I cannot read or write Hebrew, but it is my first language and I am fluent. I am a proud Israeli and today I cry for her.
On June 12th Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were kidnapped and murdered. Their bodies were found 18 days later, and today they were all buried in Israel. As I read the news coverage of the story, along with the powerful words of their parents at their funerals, my heart breaks. I am sad as an Israeli, as a Jew, and as a mother. The depth of my sorrow however is simply because I am a human being and I am overwhelmed at the lack of humanity and decency in the world. On the day these boys are laid to rest, the hate is crushing and overwhelming.
I do not write about politics often, but I will say the statement made by President Obama upon the discovery of these three young men is disappointing. I do not write about religion often, but I will say the hate that is directed to my faith is frightening. I do not write about Israel often, but I will say that the only way there will ever be peace and acceptance in the Holy Land is if there is decency, kindness, and humanity. I believe those are the requirements and so I also believe peace will never be achieved. When it comes to politics, faith, and race, hate will always trump compassion.
There are others more qualified to write about the murder of these boys, and more experienced to write about Israel, Palestine, Hamas, and the IDF. I just felt the need to say I stand in support of Israel and her people. I don’t know how Israel will respond to the murder of these young men, but whatever it is, I trust it is best for Israel. I pray for the families of these beautiful boys and marvel at their strength during this unimaginable pain. I am Jewish by birth and by choice. Today, and everyday, I stand strong and proud to be both Jewish and Israeli.
As these boys are laid to rest, side-by-side in central Israel, I think about my own son who is 18 and the reason my heart beats. I wonder what the future holds and how will we survive in a world where people hate so openly and freely. Hate is taught and passed down from generation to generation, so the question becomes, when will it stop? When will people get tired of the pain and suffering? I believe God weeps at what the world has become. I do not believe he has control over what happens here, or what we do, but he watches, he cries, and prays while he waits for us to change.
I have not been to Israel in 3 decades, but I am proud to have sent my son and happy he loves her as I do. I can think of a lot of reasons to not like me, but being Jewish is not one of them. There must come a time when we unite and say enough. Enough. To the parents of these three young men I send you my heartfelt condolences. I am praying today not only for Israel, but for everywhere people are living with conflict, hate, poverty, torture, and sickness. My most powerful response is to teach my son to not judge race, religion, politics, or sexual orientation, while always keeping the faith.
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