Because We're Not Okay

Friday, 23 February, 2024 - 7:37 am


I’ve been publishing weekly Torah thoughts for several decades, focusing on Torah insights I find relevant to our daily lives. I rarely address current events, or politics, because I figure people can find enough – or even too many – sources to opine on those.

But I’ve shifted since October 7. As things stand, I don’t feel that I can speak to the world without mentioning the horrors of that day and the ongoing captivity of innocents. Perhaps most all, I want to call out the immoral silence; perhaps even more than the active whitewashing of rapes and burnings, grotesquely masquerading as concern for human rights in in Gaza.

On October 6, many of us saw the Western world as progressing toward higher morality. But since October 7, we haven’t even seen basic decency. Can you imagine that the UN resolution condemning Hamas’ slaughter was rejected by the General Assembly? If that’s not passive complicity with - and support for - evil, what is?

No one of good conscience wants any non-combatant – man, woman or child – in Gaza to suffer (even if the overwhelming majority of Gazans support Hamas and its Oct 7 pogrom). That’s why the IDF drops millions of leaflets, and sends hundreds of thousands of texts, begging civilians to move out of the way. So, most of us are actually in agreement. But stubbornly sticking to that discussion-point becomes a wickedly manipulative red herring. We first need to all agree on condemnation of Hamas’ actions, and demand the hostages’ return.

But it’s not happening. The silence like people are ignoring the October 7 atrocities, hoping the images will fade. It feels like our raped women don’t qualify for Me Too, and Hamas’ many war crimes can be waved away with “well, they’re not like us”. 

If we find that immoral, we need to speak up. Loudly.

This week’s Torah portion describes the Holy regalia worn by the High Priest in the Holy Temple. The Scripture describes these majestic vestments as being ‘a remembrance before G-d.’ The High Priest was representing the Jewish people and their needs, one of which is memory - a mental and moral clarity as to events and their lessons. In Torah language, forgetfulness isn’t only about the timeworn blurring of recollections. It’s also about willful removal of the truth from one’s mind, while remembering is about ensuring that a lesson of life is properly acknowledged, for posterity.

So let’s be loud and clear: Our present dystopia isn’t about people who forgot something over time. Almost immediately after Oct. 7, people had the gall to deny Hamas’ self-recorded atrocities, or just blamed Israel for their actions. 

Just recently, the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister advised that “the world needs to stop focusing on October 7.” Mr. Prime Minister, the world hasn’t even begun to focus. They can’t forget a travesty they’ve never known or remembered.

That’s why our voices can’t stop.

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