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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Wall

Allow me to share a joke during these grim times:

A guard at the Kotel in Jerusalem sees a man go to pray there every day — morning, afternoon, and evening, again and again, same daily routine. Praying at the Wall, praying at the Wall. Finally, one day the guard stops him and says, “I see you praying here.  What do you pray about?”

The man says, “Well, in the morning I pray for the wellbeing of my family, that my daughters should find worthy husbands, that my wife should be healthy.  In the afternoon I pray for success in my business, that I’ll be able to afford a strong retirement. In the evening, I pray for an end to disease, and for there to be peace in Israel and around the world.”

The guard says, “Wow.  Does it help?”

The man thinks for a moment, shrugs, and says, “To tell you the truth, it’s like talking to the wall.”

Here’s why I’m telling this joke now.

Someone I don’t know, but with whom I apparently have mutual friends, posted the following question on my Facebook page in response to the flyer for our solidarity event last week “An Evening of Music and Prayer”: Is condemning the war crimes that the Israeli government is currently committing against innocent Palestinians, as well as raising money for the Gaza relief effort going to be a function of this event?

I’m not one to write long Facebook posts, but I couldn’t help myself and shared with this stranger the basics that I felt he needed to know. My response was not emotion-driven; it was fact-driven.  But most of you probably guessed it: There was simply no reasoning with him. He continued the exchange, which got more intense at his end. He finally mentioned the “Genocide” of the Palestinians. As I signed off and told him that I would no longer be responding to him, I invited him to look up the definition of “Genocide.” He found (and posted) the correct definition, and actually wrote, “This applies to Israel.”

It’s like talking to a wall.  Actually, no.  It’s like hitting your head against a wall because it results in pain and unease (and literally made me dizzy). The thing I really don’t understand is how, while the misinformed protesters — many of whom couldn’t find Israel on a world map and many of whom chant “From the River to the Sea” without even knowing which river they’re talking about– while these protesters go on and on about Israel’s “war crimes”, not one of them is concentrating on the hostages.

Civilian hostages. Not soldiers, not prisoners of war. There are hundreds of innocents — babies, toddlers, teenagers, young moms and dads, married couples, the elderly, families — hundreds of Israelis who have been kidnapped. Just disappeared and no one even has a Proof of Life for them.  And yet, the protesters don’t give a moment’s thought to them. On the contrary, they rip down the posters of the kidnapped victims. It is such a topsy-turvy, crazy, unbelievably sickening situation!

Let me be clear about something.  I am not worried about the outcome of this war.  The IDF is phenomenal in terms of smarts, determination, clarity of vision, and understanding what they are fighting for. Plus, we have G-d on our side, something which I don’t doubt for one instant. I do, however, worry horribly about the losses of the coming weeks (hostages, soldiers, innocent Israelis, innocent Palestinians, too – all victims of Hamas), and I also worry from hour to hour about Jewish life in the Diaspora. It’s a dangerous time for Toronto Jewry, and we absolutely must stand together when we stand with Israel. We need to remain informed and continue to share the facts.  It definitely feels like talking to the wall, and hitting our head against it, but we have to keep at it. We have to share our knowledge. Yes, it’s a wall, but even the strongest wall sometimes has a crack in it. No joke.

Am Yisrael Chai!