The Gantseh Megillah

Trouble In Israel
November 1, 2000

This column is a real tough one to write. I try my best to keep “The Gantseh Megillah” as up-beat and lively as possible, in the hope of making this newsletter a source of relaxation and enjoyment in your busy and sometimes tumultuous days. But with the situation in the Middle East being constantly on our minds, I find it impossible to ignore this topic that means so much to all of us.

I can express my personal feelings concerning the current blood shed in that area of the world in one word…”ANGER!” Not anger solely aimed at the Palestinians or Yassar Arafat, or at the leaders of the other Arab nations who are not doing their utmost to help bring this violence to a halt. No! I am angry with everyone concerned, including some factions in Israel as well. We have gotten way beyond the time for “pointing fingers” and laying blame. It has come to the point where “who’s to blame” no longer matters. Whichever side one speaks with, there is an argument for why the “other guys” are at fault. As a Jew, and someone who believes wholeheartedly in the existence of the State of Israel, my first allegiance is always with the Israelis. But in my heart, I feel anger towards all parties involved!

My stomach quite literally turns when I see these young Palestinians, many of them just children, throwing rocks and bottles and screaming words of hatred at Israelis, as their faces burn with anger and vengeance against their perceived enemy. Tears well up in my eyes as the images of the bodies of these same children are shown laying in the street oozing blood as their young lives ebb away. What leads these young people to destroy themselves over an ancient battle most of them do not even understand? And although it has been shown time and time again, that for the most part, the Israeli soldiers try their utmost to exercise restraint in their response to these attacks, it is inevitable that retaliation is impossible to prevent. We have no right to expect those who serve their country to not defend themselves. A well aimed rock or bottle can do as much damage as a bullet under the right circumstances.

But what about those people on the Israeli side who state that any negotiation of peace with the Palestinians or the rest of the Arab world is traitorous to Judaism? These same people who allow their religious fanaticism to dictate behaviours such as throwing rocks at Jewish women because they do not want them to pray at the Wailing Wall? These same people who refuse to even think about the possibility of a lasting peace in the region? Are these factions not just as guilty of perpetuating the ongoing violence as the Palestinian fanatics?

I have personally had people call me an “anti-Semite” simply because I refuse to look at one side as being ALL bad, and the other (our side) as being pristine and noble no matter what the circumstance. I believe that the etiology of the problem lies with the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the existence of the State Of Israel. That’s a “no brainer”! To many of them it is a badge of honour to hate Israel. But that is OLD news. Apparently there are many more people who no longer feel that way, but are being forced into the ongoing fighting and continuous derailment of the peace process by the same ultra fundamentalist factions who fight against the peace on both sides. This is why I say that name calling and finger pointing are no longer options. There is NO alternative to a lasting peace. Certainly not an acceptable one. How sad IS it, that a person who has tremendous pride in his Jewish heritage can be called “anti-Semite” for wanting the bloodshed and killing to cease above all? Anyone who has even the slightest association with me knows that my sense of Jewishness is at the very core of my being. I could no longer turn my back on Israel than my own family. But loving one’s heritage does not necessitate the wearing of blinders.

I do not pretend to have the answers to any of this. The wisdom of how to stop this insanity totally escapes me. Perhaps it is destined that much more blood, both old and young, will be shed before the warring factions finally see the futility to it all. But the one thing I DO know, is by perpetuating the “us and them” mentality, we are enabling the hate mongers and fanatics to continue the fight. I don’t know what we as individuals from so far away in most cases can do about this. Perhaps by sending letters to the leaders of both sides, demanding the fighting stop and the peace talks begin again might be a good start.

Let’s not worry about who started it. Let’s worry about who is going to END it!

In order to get a sense of how Megillah readers feel about the current situation I am asking you to respond to the following question by checking the box next to the statement that closest resembles your sentiments. All answers will remain anonymous. The only information I receive when you respond to the question is the letter of the box you checked off. There is no way for me to know the name or email address of anyone who participates in the survey.

I believe that a lasting peace in the Middle East... an impossible dream
...will not be reached because the Palestinians cannot be trusted
...must be accomplished in order to stop the bloodshed at any cost
...will be a reality sometime in the future, but not right now

There are some lighter sides to this months Megillah. Eddy Robey has graced us with another of her marvelous culinary delights. I tried her noodle kugel recipe during the holidays… DIE for!! Of course there is some last minute U.S. election news as the campaign draws to a close, along with the usual stuff and nonsense in the Beyond the Forum area. Who knows? If you really pay attention you might even find a few surprises along the way.

December will mark the 1st anniversary of “The Gantseh Megillah.” Starting with the January issue you will see some major changes in the design and format of the newsletter. Arnold and I have been working on what we believe are some very interesting and exciting plans, which I shall tell you more about in the next issue. I don’t wanna spill the beans too early in order to keep the element of suspense going. But please DO stick around. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Enjoy the Megillah.
My love to all of you,

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