Written by Jewish Chronicle Readers
Parent Category: Opinion
Category: Latest Opinion
Published: 14 August 2014
Israel is the victim
I can’t help but find a correlation between Muslim migration into Europe and other non-Muslim countries and the rising clamor of anti-Semitism in those countries. Hamas instigated violence in Gaza, knowingly using civilians as shields for their missiles, and there has been an outcry from around the world condemning Israel for protecting itself. It seems to me to be a well-orchestrated sequence of events where Hamas’ action and Israel’s reaction has resulted in certain sections of the world immediately pouncing on Israel rather than on the perpetrators. As Muslims get stronger in traditionally non-Muslim countries, I am very afraid that things will get worse, not just for Israel, but for Jews everywhere. Israel and Jewish communities around the world need to go on a massive public relations offensive to remind the world that Israel is the victim and not the world’s greatest enemy.
Interfaith Council deplores anti-Muslim sentiment
It has come to the attention of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council that an official of the Kansas Republican 3rd Congressional District Committee recently issued a highly-prejudicial and inflammatory anti-Muslim statement on Twitter. As shocking as the tweet itself, the Kansas Republican Party has disavowed any responsibility for “public statements of private citizens” and has refused to issue an apology for the since-deleted tweet or to remove the official from his post, although the official himself has since resigned.
In these days of shootings and tension, both locally and internationally, there is no excuse for such irresponsible language and incitement, in particular from officials of civic and political organizations. Interfaith dialogue is important for the purpose of learning and healing. No “conversation” or communication against any religion is acceptable, as its only purpose is to spread hatred and misunderstanding.
The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council deplores bigotry in all forms and calls on all citizens to always keep in mind how thoughtless language can lead to reckless behavior and to act with compassion in all communications and endeavors.
Sheila Sonnenschein, convener
Rev. Mary McCoy, co-convener
Greater Kansas City
Written by Julie Fingersh, Guest Columnist
Parent Category: Opinion
Category: Latest Opinion
Published: 24 July 2014
Let’s just say that missiles and bomb shelters were not on the itinerary of our 16-year-old daughter’s pilgrimage trip to Israel this summer.
I spoke to her this morning. Yeah, the alarms are unnerving, she said, but absolutely, she wants to stay with her group.
Again today, we say OK. But as the bad news keeps streaming in, my husband and I ask ourselves, no doubt in the company of the other tortured parents whose children are there: Are we crazy?
We’re not asking our family and friends to answer that. We get texts by the day, showing support along with various degrees of restraint. “Is Jesse safe?” “You guys okay with Jesse in Israel?” Our rabbi calls repeatedly to check in. My mother-in-law cuts to the chase, no doubt echoing the true sentiments of many: “Are there plans to get the kids out yet?”
The truth is, we’re not really OK. But, along with hundreds of other parents in our position, we are choosing to tolerate our discomfort, because it’s a complicated choice that involves us as parents, Americans and Jews.
How do we see our choice?
First, although anxious, we use statistics to help prevent us from truly fearing for our daughter’s safety. So far, more than 1,000 missiles have been fired into Israel with relatively few casualties. “The odds of actually being hit by one of these rockets is like winning the lottery,” our Israeli friend says. “Except you have a better chance of winning the lottery.”
Our daughter was probably at greater risk of injury in the cab ride to JFK the day of her flight.
My own experience with Israel helps. Having spent childhood summers there, I grew accustomed to its dual realities. I remember obsessing about my SAT scores as my cousin went off to mandatory paratrooper training for the Israel Defense Forces. See a paper bag on a bench? Run and tell one of the dozens of soldiers walking the streets — soldiers who are your age, in army fatigues with M-16s around their necks. You live surrounded by some of the best protection in the world.
But when it’s your own kid walking those streets in need of that protection, it’s not so easy. It helps to read the daily reports from the organization to which we’ve entrusted our child’s care. The National Federation of Temple Youth, Ramah, United Synagogue Youth — these institutions have led American teenagers through Israel for decades. For them, this last week is sadly not far from business as usual. Veterans at coordinating with Israeli military and government officials, they’ve kicked into high gear, dispatching security guards to travel with our kids and evaluating each group’s itinerary day by day.
Finally, we battle our anxiety and the pressure to bring our kids home with the values that led us to send them to Israel in the first place. Our kids went to learn about their heritage and legacy. After a week in Warsaw and Krakow where they walked along the same railroad tracks that carried their ancestors to oblivion, they came to Israel to experience its complexities and wonder. They came to explore their identity, and their larger story, as Jews and Americans. Frighteningly, tragically, this conflict is part of that story.
So as long as we feel certain that the risk of true danger is remote, we will honor our daughter’s wish. Because to us, aborting the trip would be a triumph of anxiety over a higher cause. Staying the course, our daughter will understand on a whole new level what it means to be part of a society that has to fight for its freedom and democracy. She will learn in a powerful way what it means to stand in solidarity with her people and our homeland.
We also hope she will come home with a deepened spirit and perspective, with a new understanding of the tragedy of war, and a new appreciation of America’s gifts. We know she will learn from the unimaginable bravery, resilience and grit of the Israeli people, our brothers and sisters.
Staying, she gets an unforgettable chance to practice courage and commitment to something greater than oneself. Something else, too, that all of us nervous parents are hoping.
Maybe our children will return home passionately empowered as Jews, Americans and global citizens, with all the complications and ambiguities of these roles. Maybe they’ll grow to be part of a new generation of leaders who do a better job than we have at running this world.
Still, it’s no picnic to know that our choice to allow our daughter access to this experience will likely change her in ways we won’t be able to control or ever fully comprehend.
“We’re all fine, Mom,” my daughter said to us after taking cover in the shelter during this morning’s latest alarm. “It’s freaky, but it’s OK. It’s good.”
In our hearts, we pray that she, and we, are right.
Julie Fingersh grew up in the Kansas City area and lives with her family in San Rafael, Calif. She is a writer, college consultant and regular contributor to The Huffington Post and the daughter of Pella and Jack Fingersh.