Tag Archives: The war on Gaza

The Face of the Earth

I’ve been struck by the fact that several WOW readers, from different countries, after having read my previous post, “What Would I Have Done?”, wrote to tell me, privately, using the same terminology — practically word for word — that Hamas must be eradicated because its stated aim is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

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So, I wondered, is this what Netanyahu tells his frightened and vulnerable people in order that they might sleep at night? Is this his parroted party line – to justify, rationalize the slaughter of so many Palestinian civilians? Is preemptive, blanket, mass annihilation acceptable on the face of today’s earth?

I search my heart and soul and mind for words to express how I feel about the horror that is this relentless war on Gaza, where, as I write this, the death toll in only fifteen weeks has surpassed 25,000. I know I’m not alone in my anguish. Thousands upon thousands of people all over the world have been demonstrating for a ceasefire. But is Netanyahu heeding their cries?

Yes, there have been other genocides in my lifetime (let’s not forget those in Africa). But this one, as I wrote in my previous post, strikes closer to home because the U.S.A. is underwriting it. And because I’ve always thought of Jews as smart, wise, admirable-to-the-point-of-being-enviable, and human-rights-loving people – always the first in line to march for peace and justice in this world. It breaks my heart to see this genocide conducted in their name.

I look back:

As I recall it, the kids in my grammar school in suburban northern New Jersey in the ‘50s fell into three basic, equal camps: some were Jewish, some were Catholic, and some of us (like my siblings and me) were Protestant. The fact that we all represented various religions didn’t trouble any of us. Just like some of us were good at math and some (like me) were definitely not, we accepted each other’s differences. We all got along. I grew up thinking, religiously speaking, this was the way the world was.

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During the years that World War Three was being waged behind my family’s front door, in the runup to my parents’ overdue divorce, I made it a practice to hang out in friends’ houses – friends who came from happy homes, that is – after school.

 One of my best friends in sixth grade was Barbara Gomberg, who came from an enviably happy and peaceful Jewish home. So I spent a lot of time there, soaking up all the love and tranquility that I could. Her mom was a piano teacher who gave lessons in their home and filled their large house with beautiful music. Her father, so unlike my own, was a sweet-faced, soft-spoken psychiatrist who met with patients in their home.

I was tall for my age then, and Barbara’s dad was a short man. When passing by us kids, he often reached up to pat me on the head, smile, and say, “You are such a good girl.” He made me feel seen and appreciated at a time when I most needed it.

I confess I secretly envied the encouragement my Jewish classmates’ parents gave them to succeed in life. Their parents set the bar high, pushing their kids to get good grades, go to the best colleges, then study law or medicine. They were expected to bring pride and honor to the family name –which all of them ultimately did. My own parents, in contrast, didn’t seem to care one way or the other. They were too busy being combatants.

Later, living and working in New York City for twenty years, I had many Jewish friends and several Jewish boyfriends. In fact, my second (and last) husband was Jewish. He was short and cute, funny and fun. He made me laugh. He tried his best to teach me how not to take life so seriously. We believed in the same big God.

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I’ve been reading that instances of antisemitism are sharply on the rise around the world. I believe the blame for this can be laid at the doorstep of Benjamin Netanyahu. He and his henchmen are inflicting unspeakable harm not only on the people of Gaza, which is clear to anyone following the international news, but also to Jews’ peace and security worldwide. I stand with the old rabbis who cry out, “This [Gaza war] is wrong! This is not who we are as Jews! This is not what the Torah teaches!”

In my view, the face of the earth is the face of a mother, grieving.

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Wake Up, Stand Up

There is something each of us can do. We can write to our elected officials and press for a ceasefire. We can follow my friend Victoria Pierce’s example:

Yesterday she wrote to me in an e-mail, “I just sent a letter to the White House [www.whitehouse.gov] telling them that I do not want my tax money going to kill people [in Gaza] and that the madness needs to stop. Maybe if enough of us do this, they will pay attention.”

Victoria added a quote from Albert Einstein: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

Please see this inspiring interview with Victoria of last April:  www.blog.bonnieleeblack.com/victoria-pierce-opening-doors/ .