Plus, A Recent Lament By Eli Wiesel

By Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani
No part of this article may be copied or reproduced
without my written permission.

During the past few weeks, I hear the voices of generations of Jewish men, women, children, mothers and fathers crying out to be heard as the world, once again, slaps injustices of undeserved condemnation on the Jewish people for defending themselves against terrorists. I have decided to let their voices be heard here. They wish to ask you the following questions for you to answer for yourselves, for your own discernment, speaking to your souls. It doesn't matter if you are Jewish, or not - many non-Jews can relate to their questions. How would you feel if these things happened to you?

How many of you ever had to choose which of your children would live or die, or had your child pried from your arms, or stolen from you while you were at work, and that kidnapped child was then marched right to the gas chamber?

How many of you watched your younger sibling being thrown up into the air to land, speared, on a Nazi's bayonet, or taken for use in Nazi experiments that deformed them for life, or killed them?

How many of you watched your families have to wear a yellow star that said JUDE or let's say a red cross that says CHRISTIAN, or whatever your religion might be (and if you refused you'd be killed), and were imprisoned simply because they were going about their daily lives, but the only difference was that they had a certain religion?

How many of you ran for your lives as your enemies pursued you by every possible means and you lived off grass and whatever you could find on the ground, hiding, not knowing who you could trust, always living day to day in starvation and fear?

How many of your relatives, or did you, yourself, live to see the horrors of WWII and know that even the U.S. was supplying and supporting the Nazis, instead of ending these horrors by bombing the train tracks leading into the death camps, even though they knew fully well what was going on, they waited until the very last second, and even then with very limited aid given, to help you and other survivors?

How many of your cultures or religions feel that if one person behaves in a certain way it reflects on all of you; that you are also responsible for each one in your community?

How many of you have to maintain a supply of syringes and gas masks always nearby so you can protect and inject yourself and your children in case the Iraqis start bombing you with nerve gas?

How many of you go out of your homes each day to be confronted by your neighbors throwing stones at you and yelling words of hatred at you and you aren't allowed to retaliate because the world condemns you for that - but the world doesn't condemn those throwing the stones or performing other abuses?

How would you feel if you knew that your neighbors don't want peace, they refuse every offer for peace, and instead increase education of hatred towards you - knowing that they want every inch of your land, of course never allowing you to have permission to visit your own holiest site in your country. And their greatest joy is to see you and yours murdered?

How many of you have to spend each day sending your children to school knowing that your neighbor wants nothing more than to see your kids dead and will bomb them or torture them with the insane belief that this is what God wants and they will be highly rewarded in heaven for doing so? Not only that killing people of one religion, genocide, is a good thing, but committing suicide in murdering them will be a blessing and something to celebrate.

How many relatives have you buried for being victims of terrorist attacks?

How many times have you been up-rooted and moved from your home, your business, your country because the others can't tolerate the fact that you practice another religion - never mind that you and your generations have supplied that country with education, the arts, goods, services and economic growth?

How many of you lived with survivors of the Holocaust and saw them tortured daily, saw the psychological and emotional damage that would always be with them?

How many of you had relatives who worked for the Kings and Queens and yet were the target of hate when those Kings or Queens needed a scapegoat?

How many of your relatives were murdered in the Inquisition?

How many of you had to pretend to be Catholic, or take your religion underground and practice it in secret because if it were known that you were a something else you'd be killed?

How many of you are sick and tired of reading that everything is Israel's or the Jew's fault - simply because those accusing can't ever be personally responsible for the atrocities they commit?

How many of you simply want to live in peace, practice your own spirituality/religion, raise your kids in a happy environment only to be attacked over and over by people who want the tiny little country that you can call your own - a country that was accepted by the U.N.? And you have to live the rest of your life having lost relatives and friends, and the living (to insanity and depression), due to your neighbor's intolerance and hatred?

This is just a sample of what it's like to be a Jew and an Israeli. The Jewish people, however, are not alone; they know that other races, religions, cultures have suffered at the hands of injustice and fear, ignorance and hate. Are we perfect? one is. We are not proud of some of our previous actions, through time. However, we believe in peace and co-existence; we know it can happen. We appeal to you, who have known such hated, violence, hate crimes, to put yourselves in our position. How would you feel? How would you act?

Now that the Jews are strong, Jews are attacked for being strong because the world wants them to remain the scapegoats and give, give, give - and yet, the Jews have been the ONLY ones who have ever given anything towards peace and are still blamed for all the violence in their country, ignoring the rest and not holding the Palestinians and Arabs responsible for their actions.

What we, the voices of generations, wish to share with you is that the Jews are tired of carrying the load of compassion for those who can't be compassionate, being the scapegoat for the world's problems, for their lack of responsibility, or simply to have to have an enemy to whom they can feel superior, a group on whom they can dump all of their imbalances.

Times have changed. Jews will NOT be a scapegoat any longer. Jewish people will not be blamed for, or have to justify, everything they do, nor led to the slaughter yet one more time. They feel it's time for the rest of the planet to change their conceptions of Jewish people and begin to embrace compassion and take responsibility for a true and lasting peace with a commitment to security, for everyone. Let us all rise to our highest potential.

Thank you for allowing the voices of Jewish generations to speak, and be heard.

© Copyright 2000, 2002, Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani


We have gathered here to affirm our solidarity with Israel. We are outraged by the hypocritical vote in the Security Council which did not condemn Palestinian excessive reactions but condemned Israel's response to them. We stand by Israel whose present struggle was imposed upon her by the intransigeance of the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

Those of us who reject hatred and fanaticism as options and who consider peace as the noblest of efforts finally recognize Yasir Arafat for what he is: ignorant, devious and unworthy of trust. We had hoped for a genuine peace between Israel and her Arab neighbours, including the Palestinians. We had dreams of Israeli and Palestinian children playing together, studying together, laughing together, discovering each other's worlds. The pain, the agony, the death of any child, Palestinian or Jewish, is a torment to us. But why does Chairman Arafat not protect them but instead uses them as shields for adults throwing stones and worse?

Yes, it is with a heavy heart that we say that our dreams of peace have gone up in the smoke of ransacked synagogues, in the lynching of Israeli prisoners and of blood-thirsty mobs shouting their version of a Jerusalem without Jews and a Middle East without Israel. And I blame the supreme leader of the Palestinians, Yasir Arafat.

By rejecting Israel's unprecedent generous territorial concessions, he is burying the peace process; in so doing, he has betrayed the confidence not only of his negotiating partners but of President Clinton and other western leaders, just as he has betrayed the highest honor society can bestow upon a person.

How can a leader, any leader in Israel renew discussions with him before all the kidnapped soldiers are returned to their families. By unleashing mob violence and bloodshed in the streets rather than guiding his frustrated people toward coexistence and peace, he renounced their legimate aspirations for a future free of suffering and hatred. I hold him responsible for the murder of Rabbi Hillel Lieberman and the lynching of two young reservists. All his promises were lies, all his commitments were false. Indeed many peace activists here and in Israel are now reassessing the Oslo accords. Under Israel sovereignty, Christians, Jews, and Moslims alike could pray without fear in Jerusalem, our capital, which is at the center of Jewish history.

A Jew may be Jewish far from Jerusalem; but not without Jerusalem. Though a Jew may not live in Jerusalem, Jerusalem lives inside him.

No other nation's memory is as identified with its memory as ours. No people has been as faithful to its name, or has celebrated its past with as much fervor. None of our prayers are as passionate as those that speak of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the dream of our dreams, the light that illuminates our hopeless moments. Its legitimacy lies in its sovereignty.

To oppose one is to deny the other. Israel will never give up either. I accuse him of being morally weak, politically shortsighted and an obstacle to peace.

I accuse him of murdering the hopes of an entire generation.
His and ours.

--- Elie Wiesel, NYC, 10/12/00