Friday, June 15, 2012


A fantastic, beautiful piece by Rabbi Daniel Gordis, which I simply don't have time to do justice to, so just a few quick comments:

Whatever you think our policy toward thousands of illegal Sudanese refugees ought to be, there’s no denying that images of Jewish immigration police rounding up helpless refugees is a distressing one. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be discomfited, not to wonder if a country created by people who had nowhere else to go 60-something years ago couldn’t have dealt with this better.
“You shall not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). Does the fact that this is a Jewish country not have anything to say about this, many young Israelis are asking.
I've often quoted a thinker (I keep forgetting who) who called that the biggest moral leap in history. Hazing, he said, is the normal human response. Someone does something bad to me, so when I'm in power, I'll do it to the next guy. The Jewish response was, instead, to remember the pain of oppression, and use it as a spur to never do it. I remember how awful it was, and so I'll never do that to someone else.

That's why we are supposed to relive the Exodus every year, at seder. We keep the memory, even the sense-memory, of that horrible time alive, to keep the motivation alive, too. The motivation to help the weak, and never to oppress them.

I am sure that the actual, practical question of whether or not to allow the Sudanese refugees to stay is a complicated one. Sincerely. But, I'll admit that my strong, nearly overwhelming gut reaction is that they have to be allowed to stay. It's the only right thing, the only Jewish thing, to do.

Gordis goes on though, to show a painful irony in Israel right now:

...that young woman from Aderet and her companions awoke on Tuesday morning to newspaper accounts of how anti-Zionist haredim (ultra- Orthodox) defaced memorials at Yad Vashem with graffiti reading: “Thank you Hitler for the wonderful Holocaust you arranged for us.  Thanks only to you we got a state from the UN. [signed] World Zionist Mafia.”
Does our government still believe in this country? Will it have the courage to find a way to kick out – forever – the people who spray-painted those horrific words and those who encouraged them? Or are the Sudanese the only ones we’ll figure out a way to expel? Is nothing sacred here anymore? It’s a sad day when young people feel a need to ask.
I will always love Israel, and I will always be proud of Israel. But if those refugees are sent home, while those miserable SOBs are tolerated, then that will be a moment that does not make me proud. Israel should be better than that. Israel is better than that.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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