Social Media Silence

Sometimes there are so many words before me, that my own are lost.
Over the last fortnight, I have resisted the urge to say anything much on twitter, facebook or blog about the war in Israel and Gaza. There was so much being said I felt all I had was silence.
My facebook wall became a shouting match of (largely British and American) posts trying to prove their own 'sides' truth, rightness, justification, and to villify, accuse and undermine the other. Both sides of the divide. I was deeply moved by personal stories of friends' fear and loss, and of racism experienced thousands of miles from the bombs and rockets. On both sides. And I was a little dumbstruck by those who seemed to want to fight the battle from the safety of their computers in countries very far from either side of the conflict. And so I stayed silent.
Often it is difficult for Rabbis to keep quiet. Many of us want to improve the world, to engage with it, to make it better (although writing on Israel as a Rabbi is also notoriously fraught with danger, and there's always a good handful afterwards who will wish you stayed silent). But very little of what happened in the last flurry of violence feels like it achieved much that was positive, and certainly not the online accusations and 'memes' which seemed to help people feel they were doing their bit.
My real problem is that where each side cried lies, it allowed them to ignore painful truths, and where each side pointed fingers, they were not hearing their own responsibility. I know it is easy to see right and wrong, black and white, victim and oppressor. But both sides experienced their own fear and terror, loss and anguish, states which are never good breeding grounds for living well. In the virtual world we seemed to be feeding into all of this horror, and imagining it was our battle to be fought. It undoubtedly raises strong emotions in many around the world, from diverse backgrounds, faiths and political approaches. But we are not having to live it, and perhaps we might, on both sides, take a moment to breath. To be silent. And to hear what the other is experiencing and has experienced. To hear that there are many truths in the midst of all the gunfire and fear, and that hearing those truths might just help us work towards a workable and liveable and just solution for all.
I suspect when I press 'publish' I might regret not having held my own silence. But perhaps, as someone who usually does say so much, it also needing expressing, as my truth, within the many painful truths of this conflict.

May the One who makes peace in the highest bring this peace upon us, upon all Israel and upon all the world.


  1. Do you ever feel like getting the leaders on both sides and banging their heads together to knock some sense into them - in a non-violent way, of course. I do think Israel is more powerful, but they both seem so proud and foolish. If all Palestinians engaged only in non-violent protest, what would Israel do, I wonder. I wish the Palestinians would try to find out.


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