Hoping

It’s all quiet on the western front – for now. Tonight, Israelis had a Shabbat Shalom – a Shabbat of peace. They came out of their safe rooms, hopeful that they will sleep through the night in their beds.

Palestinians in Gaza are taking stock of their situation. Some are seeking temporary shelter, their homes reduced to rubble. They are figuring out how to get water and food.  

There is, at last, a ceasefire, one we hope is durable. History suggests that it will inevitably be breached a few times before it’s accepted as the latest law of the land. But at least, for the time being, the sounds of warfare are not heard.

This latest war, the acting out of chronic political and ideological conflicts between Israel and Palestine, has created an ominous trend. “… We are witnessing a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate right here at home,” says ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement released shortly before the ceasefire was reached. “It’s happening around the world— from London to Los Angeles, from France to Florida, in big cities like New York and in small towns, and across every social media platform.”

It’s always frightening to read of a marked uptick in antisemitic statements and crimes. Whenever we hear a story of a Jew being accosted – or worse, we feel the vulnerability and draw on memories of persecution that are centuries old. The sordid story of antisemitism is a horrible, ongoing tale of ignorance and malevolence. Yet, no matter how many times we’ve heard about it or experienced it ourselves, it still shocks us.  

It’s also shocking that, throughout history, we’ve often found ourselves alone with our anxiety and fear over antisemitism. We didn’t see any immediate indignation in the media over Jews being singled out and attacked at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Had the attackers been neo-Nazis and the victims people of color, would there be more coverage, more outrage?

Is antisemitism just so de rigueur, deeply rooted in Western civilization, that people take it for granted? It just seems so easy to take figurative and literal potshots at Jews.

The hope is that moving forward, the ceasefire will cool things down in the Middle East and here at home, too. But then, what next? Will the end of hostilities drop Palestine back into the stasis of status quo, where it’s been ignored by the world for years now? And won’t that perpetuate this endless cycle of violence? A ceasefire isn’t peace.

Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve dignity and security. A two state solution is  the only way to make this happen. A Jewish and democratic state for Israel, and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza for Palestinians. For those that wish to replace or destroy Israel, it is not going to happen. For those that want to ignore Palestinians hoping they will go away, that will not happen.

I don’t have any answers right now, just a fragile sense of hope that I pray we all can share.

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