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Let's March -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 11/09/23

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

November 9, 2023 25 Cheshvan 5784 Chaye SarahI don’t expect Rep. Rashida Tlaib to ever say anything nice about Israel. I don’t. And that’s okay. Israelis and Palestinians both have legitimate claims to the same small piece of land. She’s not happy with the way things have worked out over the last 100 years. Israel has a state and the Palestinians do not. She is welcome to express her disappointment and frustration. However, I do expect a member of the US government to speak truthfully and responsibly. When a member of the US House of Representatives throws around the word “genocide,” she should be sure that the term applies. Since 1967, when Gaza first came under Israeli control, the population of Gaza has grown from 400,000 to 2,300,000 people. That is NOT a genocide. Further, as Israel continues to warn Palestinian civilians and urges them to get out of the way of combat, it is clear that Israel is not trying to destroy the Palestinian people. Instead, it is trying to minimize civilian casualties in a very difficult urban-warfare environment. Sadly, Hamas doesn’t seem to care about Palestinian civilians nearly as much as the IDF does. But, beyond falsely accusing Israel of genocide, Rep. Tlaib has insisted on repeating the Palestinian chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This chant begs the question: What would happen to the 7 million Jews who currently live between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea in this future free Palestine of Rep. Tlaib’s imagination. Well, I think we got a pretty good indication of what Hamas would want to do with all of the Jews of Israel on October 7. And that is the problem with Rep. Tlaib’s chant, which is based on the rallying cry of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—both terror groups. In explaining her use of this phrase, Rep. Tlaib said that it is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.” I call that nonsense. If you are borrowing your wording from terror organizations, you don’t get to call it an aspirational call for freedom. If she really wanted to chant about peaceful coexistence, then I could fix it for her in two seconds—“From the river to the sea, a state for you and a state for me.” Done. But, that’s not what Palestinians and their supporters have been chanting since October 7. That is not the future that Rep. Tlaib imagines when she chants her version of “From the river to the sea....” Further, when people of color tell us that particular words are hurtful to them, we listen. When the LGBTQ+ community tells us that particular words are hurtful to them, we listen. And this is true for other communities who have been targets of hate. So, when the Jewish community says that these words are hurtful, Rep. Tlaib doesn’t get to tell us we’re wrong. I have been to many Israel rallies over the years. I can’t remember a single one where we sang or chanted about the elimination of Palestinians. We chant for peace. We chant for coexistence. We express our gratitude for a Jewish state in a world that can be hostile to Jews. Those are the kinds of messages that I expect to hear next Tuesday at the March for Israel in Washington DC. And hopefully, our message will drown out the irresponsible speech coming from Rep. Tlaib and others. Shalom, RAF.

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