With Purim having arrived in most of the world, fast approaching here in Jerusalem, and in light of my recent piece Gee, I Guess I'm A Racist, I thought that I would check and see if I am, indeed, still a racist.
"What does this have to do with Purim?" you ask.
Over the years, the holiday of Purim has been and sometimes even referred to as an outright "racist" holiday by the Far Left.
Who could forget former MK Yossi Sarid's (Meretz) suggestion that we cancel the reading of Megillath Esther (Scroll of Esther) because of how racist it is, which led to his being cursed by Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, prominent Sepharadi spiritual leader?
First a story. Then I will examine Megillath Esther, to see if it is indeed racist.
Years ago, I taught in a Jewish, secular school, which was made up of 2/3 Jews and 1/3 Arabs, both Muslim and Christian.
Why was I teaching at this school? One of those "American Jewish Organizations," which feigns pluralism, helped me to come to Israel. Who says that these organizations can't do anything right, at least once in a while. Apparently, they can. But, in my case, it was now payback time.
I was told that the middle class Arabs of this town typically went to the type of school where I was teaching. The wealthy Arabs sent their kids to private schools. (Yes, there ARE wealthy Arabs.)
Two of the teachers at this school were Arabs, and I have to say that they were nicer to me than most of the assimilated, Israeli galuth-ified Jews, teaching their students how Adam and Eve must have "felt," when they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. "Was that fair?" the first graders were asked. God help us with teachers like these in our State schools!
But, I digress....
My relatively high level sixth-grade English class at this school included "Rinah," whose mother was Jewish and father Muslim, her best friend "Elizabeth," an Arab Christian, "Ahmed," a self-described product of an Arab mother and "Palestinian" father, and his best friend "Shlomo."
I could not have taught at a more potentially politically correct school. Those American Jewish Organizers must have been kvelling over us.
In retrospect, I have to say it was a great learning experience. Not the least of which was picking up little tidbits, that would never be mentioned in the news or in textbooks, such as how "Rinah's" brother was exempt from IDF service, even though he was Jewish (according to Jewish Law). Apparently, even the Israeli government was suspicious of the loyalties of the children of mixed marriages.
During this year, the Hebrew month of Kislev and the Muslim month of Ramadan coincided, while December conveniently overlapped the other two.
This was the perfect opportunity for a final writing assignment: Write about a holiday. I made mention of the calendrical coincidence to my students, and told them that I thought it interesting.
We reviewed the elements of a paragraph, that I would even expect of an average American sixth-grader:
6 Sentences:I assumed that my students would write about Hanukkah, Christmas, or Ramadan/Idr Fitr.
1 Introductory sentence
1 Explanatory sentence
3 Detail sentences
1 Concluding sentence
I was right. But, when it came time to grade "Ahmed's" paper, I saw that he had written about Hanukkah, not Ramadan/Idr Fitr, as I had expected. When I called "Ahmed" up to receive his grade of 10 (A+), I pointed out what was particularly good about his paragraph. But, then I asked him how he decided to write about Hanukkah, and not Ramadan/Idr Fitr. He did a "Homer Simpson" by smacking his forehead, and shouting "Doh!"
I reassured him that there was nothing wrong with what he had done. On the contrary, I emphasized his perfect grade. I was just curious. But, he didn't have an answer. So, I let it go.
No doubt there are those who would identify this incident as a result of "Ahmed's oppression," probably the same people who would also call Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombers, "freedom fighters."
I liked "Ahmed'." I liked all of my students, Jew, Christian, and Muslim. Each and every one of them received my care and attention equally. I did my job, and I even enjoyed it.
...but when "Ahmed's" picks up a rock, and in my experience, "Ahmed's" will, more likely than not, eventually pick up a rock, or something else, "Ahmed" will no longer be my student; he will be a soldier, or an enemy combatant. Take your pick.
What am I supposed to do? Reason with him? Tell him that I was that nice, religious Jew he had ages ago as his English teacher, who praised him and encouraged him?
No. I don't think so. I'm going to defend myself. And when then Israeli police comes to arrest me for doing so, as they have done SO many times to Jews already, not only in Yehudah and Shomron (Judea and Samaria), but also in the Negev and in the Galilee, then,...well, I guess I'll just have to burn that bridge when I get to it.
Sure, there are Arabs like "Mahmud," the mechanic who lives in the Shomron, who just wants to support his family. He often asks his customers who are dual Israeli/U. S. citizens if they can sponsor him and his family so that they can get out. He, too, sees the dangers of his own "Palestinian Authority," and knows that they have no historical connection to the land of Israel.
I will go a step farther and tell you about "Yassuf." He and I are members of a support group. Although he and I live in different cities, when I see him, we are happy to see each other, and even help each other toward the common goal we have being members of this group.
Great. But, so what?
But, I am not willing to take the chance that the one or possibly the one million Arabs who want to destroy me and my people get let off the hook for the sake of "Mahmud" in the Shomron or "Yassuf" in Tel-Aviv.
You are all familiar with the silly, yuppy expression, "Some of my best friends are Arabs." (...or African-Americans, or nuclear free whales, or radical lesbian separatists, or what have you...)
This post is not about that, not in the least. However, no one can say that I have never met Arabs, spoken with Arabs, worked with Arabs, taught Arabs, or even liked Arabs.
So, what's the Purim connection?
יא אֲשֶׁר נָתַן הַמֶּלֶךְ לַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר בְּכָל-עִיר-וָעִיר, לְהִקָּהֵל וְלַעֲמֹד עַל-נַפְשָׁם--לְהַשְׁמִיד וְלַהֲרֹג וּלְאַבֵּד אֶת-כָּל-חֵיל עַם וּמְדִינָה הַצָּרִים אֹתָם, טַף וְנָשִׁים; וּשְׁלָלָם, לָבוֹז יב בְּיוֹם אֶחָד, בְּכָל-מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ--בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ שְׁנֵים-עָשָׂר, הוּא-חֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר. יג פַּתְשֶׁגֶן הַכְּתָב, לְהִנָּתֵן דָּת בְּכָל-מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה, גָּלוּי, לְכָל-הָעַמִּים; וְלִהְיוֹת היהודיים (הַיְּהוּדִים) עתודים (עֲתִידִים) לַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, לְהִנָּקֵם מֵאֹיְבֵיהֶם.
11 that the king had granted the Jews that were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, and to slay, and to cause to perish, all the forces of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, . 12 upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. 13 The copy of the writing, to be given out for a decree in every province, was to be published unto all the peoples, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
On this Purim, we must commit to continue our work in battling the Hillul Hashem, by defending ourselves, and once again preventing the destruction of the Jewish People. If that means racial profiling, limiting the service of Arabs in the IDF, and sending spies into Arab communities to keep tabs on their activities, then so be it.
And, so I ask you, "Am I still a racist?"