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A Bad Time To Be In Love

Is this the wrong time to say this? Probably, but a better time never really seems to come, so here goes; I am hurting. We are hurting. Who is "we"? Those of us who love the Israeli AND Palestinian people. Those of us who embrace Judaism and Islam. It seems that when we commiserate with the pain of one, we're dismissing the pain of the other, and that simply is never our intention.

Almost every Israeli I have ever met here in the States has invited us to come and stay at their home when we visit Israel. They stop me on the street, embrace me in public spaces and call me tzadik (righteous), and chacham (wise or learned). One young Israeli kissed the back of my hand and said, "I'm in the presence of ish kadosh (a holy man), I can feel it." It's impossible to not feel the love in their hearts.

In Chicago, the land of my birth, there's a large Palestinian community. When I lived there, Mohammed, the stout Palestinian man who owned the tire store where we bought tires for our cars always gave us an amazing price. The first time he met me, he noticed my Star Of David necklace and gave me a big bear hug, calling me, "brother". A greeter at a Palestinian restaurant greeted us with, "Shalom aleikhem" (Peace be unto you) when he saw my kippah (skull cap) and my wife's menorah (candelabra) pendant. Another restaurant owner's daughter noticed us as she was bussing tables. She came and sat and talked with us, expressing nothing but positive vibes the whole time. It was impossible to not feel the love in their hearts. I could go on with these anecdotes, but I'm sure you get my point.

I have friends and acquaintances that are Jewish Rabbis and Muslims Imams. I've heard from both Jews and Muslims how sincerely they agree that Black Lives Matter. I've joyfully danced to Arabic music as well as Klezmer tunes. I've been invited to speak at synagogues and mosques. I've mourned in both places as well.

Whom do you root for when you see two such dear friends trying their best to destroy each other? Whom do you weep for as their babies lay limp and lifeless under blankets? Both? Neither? As I said, it hurts. It hurts terribly. I wish I had a solution, but I don't. I wish I could just make it all go away, but I can’t. So I just sit and suffer. Suffer with my friends.


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