Anxiously, we waited for any news that might allow us to exhale. And when the bodies were finally found, we emitted an inexplicable, communal gurgle of gags, moans and screams. The cry that reached Heaven on that warm summer evening emerged from only one house: The House of Israel.
Our respective Facebook walls filled with angst-laden messages but, really, what was there to say? “Thank God there are bodies to bury”? “They didn’t suffer like the Wachsman boy”? “The families bore their grief with such dignity”? “Just wait! Bibi’s got a plan!”? “They’re animals? Don’t insult animals”? And when I found myself on the main highway the next afternoon trying to reach a previously scheduled appointment, I wept inside my crawling car, pressed bumper-to-bumper with other weeping drivers on their way to a funeral for three boys who but for the grace of G-d were/are our sons.
It was later reported that fifty thousand men, women and children endured scorching heat as the boys were eulogized by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chief Rabbi Lau and Rav Dov Singer of Yeshiva Makor Chaim. Anemic words of solace washed over the numbed and silent crowd.
There is, indeed, a sound to silence, and it reverberates in the bones of the living. Viewing the three flag-shrouded remains of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, one could hear what someone who doesn’t live here can never hear until they come home to Israel: the blare of the shofar at as we stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the foot of Har Sinai; the defiant roar of Macabees; the weeping of Chana pleading for children; Avraham’s sobs as he brandished a knife over his beloved Yitzchak; the rat-a-tat of the firing-squad as it killed Hannah Szenes; the vocal, impassioned cacophony of Theodore Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Eli Cohen, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Henrietta Szold, Josef Trumpeldor, Rav Avraham Isaac Kook and other, other, other voices rising from sandy graves soaked with sacred Jewish blood. The silence is, in fact, deafening.
Fifty thousand and not one shout of “Nekamah! Revenge!” This jubilant cry belongs to our Arab cousins who, without evidence, investigation, respect or reflection, embroil us in a blood-bath, which cyber-splashes across front pages and computer screens from California to Calcutta. Labeled/libeled as “aggressors,” we cower in our abodes while the “victims” stone us as we drive to retrieve toddlers from kindergarten or speed ambulances into their villages to assist someone who is ill. Feebly we beg of anyone who will listen to understand that we hire, educate, inoculate and provide them with free electricity and water, enriching their lives as none of the neighboring 22 Arab countries from which they hail ever would. No one listens and we remain ever-the-fool while the world feigns shock as the “victims” distribute candy in their streets, celebrating the latest slaughter. Our summer camps teach Arts & Crafts and tie-dying T-shirts while they improve their “Kill-A-Jew” skills.
The United Nations stifles a yawn.
So when Facebook friends, who live in Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal and/or New York post on my wall, “Our hearts are broken. We stand together as one,” I cannot help but feel, “No, we don’t.”
We. Stand. Alone.
Words of empathy sound nice on bleak days when we are feeling particularly exploited in our role of unwilling-aggressors and there’s comfort in knowing that many galut Jews (and lots of Christians) “get it.” But facts indicate that only those of us who have chosen to observe the commandment of “inhabiting the land” are manning the Front Line of world-Jewry.
At this time, I would implore those in the Diaspora to start/continue praying for us, light shabbos candles with us, learn our astounding history and put faith in G-d. The words “Am Yisroel Chai” envelop every Jewish soul; it would be lovely to sing in unison.
New York-born Andrea Simantov is a mother of six who moved to Jerusalem in 1995. She frequently lectures on the complexity and magic of life in Jerusalem and can be contacted at email@example.com.