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I'm on Facebook, looking at a picture of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews attending the funeral of police officer Zidan Saif, and the photo caption reads: "Look: Religious Jews mourning a Druze officer. Is this what you call an apartheid state?"
And that's when I realize that we [the Jewish people] have a problem. Not a problem with Arabs, with anti-Semites or with an unforgiving world, but with ourselves.
On November 18, four people were murdered in cold blood while they were praying, and another died trying to save them. The very next day, we went on the defensive. As we always have, as we always do, even in the midst of tragedy. The seven-day mourning period has barely started and we are already explaining why we have the audacity to want to survive.
Since the morning after these heinous murders, I have read so many posts addressing the outside world, saying that now that we have bled so publicly, you must see, right? Now that our enemies have moved from rockets to hatchets, you must understand that we deserve to be here, right? That we are not to blame for them seeking our death and destruction?
Well, shame on us.
I'm so tired of this crap. I'm exhausted from having to give the same old shpiel a million times. We all know it, right?
"Israel is the only democratic state in the region."
"Israel is safe for minorities."
"Israel embraces gay rights."
"Israel has the right to self-defense."
For Pete's sake, I'm pretty sure I yell "startup nation" in my sleep by now.
But why? Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do any of us? Why do we Jews act like a needy kid on the playground handing out cookies and asking the bullies politely not to kick him too hard?
When I see the pictures of tefillin-wrapped arms resting in a pool of blood next to a defensive speech, I want to scream. When I see Naftali, Eyal, and Gil-ad, the three Jewish teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas operatives [i.e., terrorists] in June, being described as "innocent boys and definitely not soldiers," I feel sick. Every time I see yet another brightly colored infographic on why we retaliate to fire, I wonder if we have it in us to help ourselves.
The slaughter of these men should not be part of any defense and the suffering of the Jewish people is not material for public relations. The lives and personalities of Naftali, Eyal, and Gil-ad do not have to be quantified or made cute for their murders to be acts of terror. When people hit us, we hit back — twice as hard.
It should be simple. Yet it's not.
Do we not believe in what we are? Does our right to exist, to live freely and to inhabit the land not resonate within us for us to yell it aloud to those who could not care less? If we truly know that we own it, would we try to earn it so desperately? It makes me so angry.
People died that day. They were people with families, histories, and legacies. Yet for every story about their lives I have seen 20 about what someone else may think about them, about us, or whatever response we choose for the slaughter of our citizens in our streets. That is simply slave mentality.
We house our own killers, provide for our attackers, save the world, protect the weak, and invent the uninventable, and we stand there begging for the world to see that "Hey, it's kind of hard to make peace with someone who insists on chopping us up, running us over, and bombing our citizens into permanent post-traumatic stress disorder".
Well, I'm done. Seriously. I will never again give that shpiel. I will not discuss what may or may not be necessary force or hand out cookies in the hope they may lay off. Nah.
Instead I will learn what I can about Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Zidan Saif and Rabbis Kalman Zeev Levine, Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, and Avraham Goldberg, may God avenge their blood, and I will know their stories and pay respect to their lives. I will not give a pound of flesh to the wolves at our door and I will not, ever again, be a public relations machine for the deaf.
We have survived too much to recommit to slavery. We have too much to lose to be locked up in this prison of our own making.
[Written by Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, political advisor, Zionist, and writer, living in Sweden.]