Elul 19

#BlogElul – Judge

So, this summer, mostly I worked. However, the time I had off I enjoyed. For instance, I went to a music festival. There was a singer, there – a singer who inadvertently reminded me of my opinions on judging. I think judgement is important. However, I think judgement of others is always a bad idea. Oh, sometimes we need to mitigate the danger that someone causes by locking that person up – but should we judge? Maybe I’d feel differently if it was my kid that was hurt by someone. I’m sure I judge in a jiffy. My heroes, however will remain those who don’t judge, even when they could. And yes, when it’s me or mine that are hurt, I have a right to judge. Do I have a right to judge when it’s a general injustice?

I don’t think it’s a good idea to judge others, in such a case. First, we know nothing. Oh, we can see the terrible plight that a person is in, and we can (and should) help, but if we see someone being aggressive, we have to be careful, because we know nothing. It reminds me of that story where the scorpion asks the tortoise for a ride across the Jordan, and says, “it’s safe, if I bite you we both drown.” Then, the scorpion bites the tortoise halfway through and when asked why by the dying tortoise answers, “well, this is the Middle East”. We don’t know. We don’t know if the tortoise’s government destroyed the scorpion’s father’s livelihood, or if a nasty tortoise had once refused to give a ride to the scorpion’s big brother when he was ill and he died or what. Furthermore, it’s tricky to judge even if we know everything.

Because judging is dangerous. Because then, the tortoises go away and say “scorpions are murdering cheats” and the next tortoise tries to drown the next scorpion on purpose and…When we say “how dare those evil Muslim terrorists do that terrible stuff?” people hear “….Muslim…terrible.” People have very selective hearing. So, better if we judge only ourselves and say, “how can we prevent terrorists?” Maybe we need to have a better security package that deals with terrorists. Maybe we need a better welcome package that deals with refugees. Maybe we need a better mental health package that deals with troubled people. Maybe we don’t have an answer. The point is, we do better if we don’t accuse anyone.

So, when that singer sang that “Israeli might is hurting the poor Palestinian refugees” song, he may not have realized it, but some people heard “Israeli…hurting” and turned it into “Jew…hurting” and thought it justified drawing a swastika on our driveway. Or maybe it justified that attack on that old guy in the funny Jewish clothes – he was probably one of the bad “Israeli might” types – he looked like he might be! And so the next day, when the scorpion saw the tortoise…

Am I saying we shouldn’t criticize Israel? Of course we should! Israel does stupid things. Israel does things that make me cry sometimes. However, I think there are ways to talk about it and write about it, to sing about it and vote about it that promote peace and justice, not hatred and more scorpions on the edge of the Jordan. What about finding those who want peace and work for it and singing about them? What about singing about the things that can be done? What about singing about how broken things are without accusing anyone? Because things are broken, and you can say that Israel brought all its problems on itself, but does that answer anything? Because, yes, Israel has made some decisions not everyone agrees with.

Not like Canada or the US. We’re not living on stolen land! (We are.) We didn’t deliberately kick people out of their homes (we did.) We certainly didn’t break up families, hurt and kill children, create strange rules for citizenship rights and practice cultural genocide! (We did.) And if we did in the past, we’re not doing it now! (We are. Look at food availability, clean water availability, healthcare availability and educational options in certain native communities. Go ahead. Take a look.) And if we had made those decisions, here in Canada, we totally would understand if some of the Native people went terrorist! There’d be no reprisals, no one would use disproportionate force and we’d listen to their concerns…Ok, I’m getting a bit sarcastic here. I’m judging. It’s so easy to fall into that trap! But at least I’m judging myself!

Seriously, though. Things in Israel are messy. You know that. I know that. I’ll even blog about it at some point. Today, however, I just want to take a step back and say, “don’t judge negatively”. Don’t. Read whatever holy book it is that tells you that if you’re going to express anger at a situation of injustice, make sure you don’t express it against another person or group of people. Let all feel safe at a music festival. Let all feel safe at a parade. (And yes, I haven’t been to a Gay pride parade since I saw a Queers Against Israeli Apartheid sign. What? It wasn’t about me? It was fine? OK, but internet comments about this issue often use Israeli and Jew interchangeably. Some anti-Semites have used Palestinian issues as justification for attacks. How would the average gay person feel about a group called Jews against Homosexual Rapists? Hey, it’s only against the rapists, it’s not about you!)

Save your judgement and anger against yourself. Say, “I should do more to help.” Heck, say “you should do more to help.” Just don’t say “those bad, bad, bad people did it”.  Be for, not against. Be for peace, not against war. Be for equality, not against men or even patriarchy. Be for Palestine *and* for Israel, not against anyone. Don’t judge anyone – or at least, “…judge everyone favourably” as per the Pirkey Avot. Then, maybe, the tortoise will be able to offer the scorpion a ride, and the scorpion may be able to accept it, and both could somehow get to the other side of the Jordan in peace.


Posted on September 24, 2016, in Elul and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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