By Norma Zager
“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” Tori Amos
Ari asked me to write a Postcard uplifting and positive despite the plight of the Jewish condition. One that addresses the highly destructive, volatile animosity between factions in the Jewish community, and attempts to find solutions.
Rarely have I faced such a monumental task.
It seems finding a way to put a happy face on the issues plaguing the Jewish world today is nearly impossible. Yes, but I did say nearly. I did not say, completely.
Perhaps the saddest conundrum, for myself and so many, is the sharp division among our own people.
Those who are passionate about the Israel’s existence are branded right-wing extremists.
Those who wish to negotiate away anti-Semitism are thought of as delusional and left-wingers.
Who is right?
Who is wrong?
Is anyone? Or perhaps both are right, and wrong.
It is impossible to reach my age and not be aware of certain unfortunate realities.
First and foremost, hatred and evil exist, and wishing them away has never been, nor will it never be effective. At least this change is not feasible in humankind’s current incarnation.
The Jewish people are and have been marked by enormous schisms in their own culture.
They are seriously separated along religious and political lines, and this split cannot be rectified or healed.
No single Judaism exists. There are numerous components and they can coexist, but never align.
Jews can harbor more dislike for one another than any Gentile could ever muster. They can be more judgmental of their own than any stranger could be.
Sadly, I have known and seen far too many self-hating Jews in my lifetime, to believe it is a minor illness and not a massively intrusive disease within the religion itself.
I have also known many Jews who would put ideology before their own God or people.
So, if my observations about Judaism and the world are correct, where are the hope, the optimism and those answers we all so desperately seek?
I must conclude reason and logic have no place in the solution.
These have failed us, for as any rational person knows, what is reasonable to one is ridiculous to another.
Only by turning to faith can we find hope. Faith is believing what logic tells you cannot be true.
That there is hope for a unified Jewish presence in the world can only be accomplished through enormous faith, for logic and life experience have not served us well.
Jews, if nothing else, are a passionate people. Right or wrong, they exert enormous passion toward their beliefs. You cannot change a Jewish mind when it is embedded in emotion.
Believe me, I do not exclude myself in this indictment. I am as guilty as others at over exercising my passion.
I cannot speak for any other religion. I know it to be true for my own people that we are nothing, if not an incredibly stubborn and excitable bunch.
This leaves little room in the equation for reason and logic to enter into the discourse. And sadly, usually they do not.
Anyone who has witnessed a Jewish family dinner complete with emotional outbursts and accusatory emotional discussion gets it.
In his hit movie Avalon, Barry Levinson uses an argument between two brothers to point up how irrational Jewish people can be, even toward those they love.
An entire family breaks up over the failure to wait for one brother who is late for dinner before cutting a Thanksgiving turkey. They never spoke again. The family was divided and the incredible absurdity of it was obvious.
These are my people. These are not all Jews of course, but many. They are obviously universally understood enough to be used as a plot line in a major motion picture.
In Israel today, Jews argue.
In Europe, Jews argue.
In the US, Jews argue.
In Los Angeles, Jews argue.
It is what Jews essentially do.
So, you ask, where is the optimism and hope in this supposedly uplifting discourse?
I am not certain I can find any…unless a few things change.
• We must be consistent with our message.
• Jews must stop hating other Jews and embrace a loving posture.
• We must stop hating ourselves.
• We must search for commonalities and not differences to use against one another.
• We must not worry or seek to be loved by throwing our own people under the bus.
• We must accept that sometimes there is nothing we can do prove our worth to a hater.
• We must understand that those who hate others do so not because of any fault in us, but in their own selves.
• We must separate once and for all our religion from our politics, and decide if our first priority is our God and our own people or political agendas.
• We must also understand that feeding our divisive issues only strengthens our enemies.
• We must also realize we have enemies. They exist and must be addressed. Irrational hatred of Jewish people is a sickness in the world’s collective body that at the moment seems incurable.
Will there be a cure one day? I believe so, but not for years to come. Not until man has escaped the constraints of this primitive incarnation. Not until humans have embraced a peaceful nature and risen above emotion to pure intellect.
I doubt this can happen in our lifetime, but I pray my children and grandchildren live to see it come to pass.
Until then, Jews will argue, disagree and the world will feed upon our negativity.
Served up like a goose on a golden platter, we will continue to malign one another, battle amongst ourselves and ignite firestorms of negative energy to keep our enemy’s belly filled and satiated enough to continue their battle against us.
Only by uniting, ending the malice and looking within at our own faults can we achieve peace amongst ourselves.
Only by seeking rational answers that do not involve putting our own people in harm’s way can we help Israel.
Can we achieve? Yes, but only if we truly believe.