Dvar Israel: Shabbat, October 14, 2017

THE COST OF EXTREMISM

I would like to begin this week’s Dvar Israel by acknowledging a very serious matter, it affects us all, and it is spreading worldwide- The crazy and incomprehensible amount of food we have eaten over the holidays of Tishrei. It’s unbelievable! And the bigger problem is the food is too good, which makes it impossible to resist. Luckily we caught this problem in time, the holidays have ended and I feel the extra pounds. It’s extreme, it’s radical and exaggerated.

All jokes aside, I would actually like to talk about a more serious matter that is also radical and extreme- have you heard of the term Price Tag Policy? This is a term originally given to describe acts of vandalism by Jewish fundamentalist settler youths aimed at Muslim citizens, the IDF, the police and other security services. While these acts of violence began as Jewish settlers lashing out against Arab citizens, they now sadly extend to acts of vandalism to property and homes of members of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli Police. As is the case in most arguments, it takes two to tango. Israeli citizens have been subjected to all kinds of violence over the years. Most recently, attacks changed from what was once on a mass scale to individualized acts of terrors in the form of knife attacks that took place anywhere without warning, individuals against individuals. Since the beginning of 2017, 16 Israeli civilians were killed in these types of terror attacks and over 50 people were injured. Whether we are talking about over-eating during the holidays or Price Tag or any type of terror, we would just like to state the obvious, radicalism and extremism are bad. Always.

How about we talk about something more contemporary? Listen to this quote: “You know what? Even if the status-quo in Al-Aktza would, let’s say be broken, a thing that didn’t happen, would that legitimize anyone to stand up and murder someone else? I don’t understand it and can’t comprehend it. What G-d would allow people to kill the innocent? What woman prays to G-d and then takes out a knife from her purse to stab others?” Can you guess who said these words? Last year, after the horrible uprising of the knife intifada in Israel, Lucy Aharish said this quote on live TV with tears in her eyes. Lucy Aharish is an Israeli-Arab news presenter, reporter and television host. She was born in Dimona, and growing up was the only Arab student in her school. On Purim, she dressed up as Queen Esther, and on the Israeli Independence Day she wore blue and white. After graduating from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she studied journalism in Tel Aviv, and later on became the first Arab-Israeli to present the news on mainstream Israeli TV when she was hired by Channel 10. During Operation Protective Edge, Aharish conducted an on-air interview with a Hamas official in Gaza, where she accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields and called on Gazan residents to rebel against the Hamas regime.

In April 2015, Lucy Aharish was one of twelve Israeli personalities chosen to light torches in the official ceremony kicking off Israel's 67th Independence Day celebrations. Lucy Aharish breaks all stigmas. She shows us that the religion, skin color or the gender you were born with mustn’t define your beliefs, or predetermine your actions. She is a perfect example of a social pioneer and shows us that there is always a way to stop fanaticism. One voice, one person, one change at a time. May we and others learn from her example and take up torches of tolerance and courage of our own. May the voices like Lucy Aharish’s be far louder than those that would encourage and educate hatred.

Shabbat Shalom.

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