In your Sept. 8 issue was a newsbrief in which Sweden’s FM chastised Israel for the disproportionate number of Palestinians that were killed compared to Israelis.
I want to describe to you an incident from a recent visit to Israel.
Just before leaving to return to the US, my niece gave me a small envelope which contained a very sharp piece of metal. Her son is an agronomist who works in Sederot. I knew immediately that is was a piece of shrapnel, picked up in the fields where he worked. I packed it in my carry-on and traveled to the airport.
I was greeted by an El Al representative who provided transportation and took my wife and me directly to the flight gate. On arrival there, we were questioned by “security” who asked why there was no security sticker on my passport. I explained that we were taken directly to the gate since we already had our boarding passes.
She said ok but we needed to still go through the usual security questions. The most critical was “Did any one give me any packages?” No packages, but then I remembered the small envelope my niece gave me and pulled it out of my carry-on... She looked at this small, very sharp, jagged-edged piece of metal and asked what it was.
I replied that it was a piece of shrapnel from a Kassam rocket which had exploded in the field near Sederot.
She asked why I needed it. I told her that in America, there is always criticism of Israel for disproportionate response where more Palestinians are killed than Israelis.
I explained that when a Kassam explodes it breaks into a thousand pieces. Over 3000 missiles have been fired into Israel, which had the potential of killing or maiming 3 million Israelis. (Do the math.)
And that is really disproportionate force. That is the story I wanted to bring back to America.
She said “kol hakovod” and allowed us to go to the plane.
I display the shrapnel prominently in our home, telling this story whenever possible.
West Orange, NJ
The Jewish Link Is Narrow-Minded for Expecting People to Stand for National Anthem
This past Shabbos I just finished reading your editorial on Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during our country’s national anthem. I reflected upon how my family owes an enormous debt of gratitude to this great country as my father, Arthur Rubin, a”h, was rescued from a concentration camp by the 82nd Airborne of the US on May 2, 1945. I also reflected upon how this newspaper, to quote the late Abba Eban, “never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Before the editorial staff vehemently condemned Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the anthem, it should have read Jason Gay’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “Sixteen Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick,” and reached across the aisle, so to speak, and heal.
Your editorial basically argues that “this is a country that affords opportunity for success and hope to people no matter their color or religion,” and that Kaepernick ought to “get up off your seat and be a stand-up guy.” It then pokes fun at Kaepernick being a backup quarterback who is used to sitting. As if that contributes to the discussion.
Jason Gay’s article reveals exactly what some narrow-minded people are lacking: 1) Given the uproar to Kaepernick’s action “we have stopped listening to each other.” 2) It would be helpful to listen to why Kaepernick decided to sit, which is: “This country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all—and that’s not happening for all right now.” Let’s listen and not immediately react. 3) Instead of listening, what we get is outrage. No discussion, no consideration of the other side, just instant outrage. 4) Kaepernick’s decision was not a rash one. He had sat before and had given post-game press conferences etc. He faced the music. 5) Kaepernick also addressed his decision to the people most affected—his teammates—and though some disagreed with him like 49ers center Daniel Kilgore, they understood where he was coming from. There is discrimination and racism in this country. 6) The Niners listened and had a conversation. 7) Here is a quote that preceded Kaepernick’s action from a progressive liberal: “It’s more dangerous to be black in America… if you are a normal white… you don’t understand being black in America and you underestimate the level of discrimination. 8) Error: The quote is from Newt Gingrich. 9) For those who believe it was a publicity stunt, the fact that NFL executives, without attribution, made it known that they would never hire Kaepernick proves that he did not need this type publicity. 10) Some, like The Link, think he could have protested in other ways. But we all know that if you want to make a statement in American life in 2016, a football field is the place to do it. The NFL is basically the last shared experience in America. 11) Why must Kaepernick behave the way we “think” a pro athlete should behave? Why can’t we appreciate his honesty and risk for what it is? 12) Kaepernick has shown a willingness to engage people on the topic, whether they agree with him or not. Social media just wants to kill him. 13) Nate Boyer, Green Beret, former Seattle Seahawk, wrote to Kaepernick in The Army Times. They ended up having a discussion about it and Boyer wound up standing next to Kaepernick as Kaepernick knelt. One for the other. 14) This is what Boyer told Kaepernick: “Good talk. Let’s just keep moving forward. This is what America should be all about.” 15) Kaepernick, who has the number one–selling NFL jersey is donating all of his proceeds plus $1 million dollars to community groups engaged on this issue. 16) It’s tempting to pin our American outrage cycle on others [“as long as you sit… you’re nothing but a backup quarterback”] but the cycle can stop with us. Let’s dial down the invective. Let’s be bigger. Let’s listen.
The Link, as a community newspaper, could have taken this story as a way to move forward to try and understand and to heal. Instead it went with the same old, same old. Blame him, blame them. My father would have felt the same way.
We are better than that.
Shofar Blowing Available for the Homebound
If you know of someone who is homebound in Teaneck/Bergenfield who would like to hear shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah, please let us know and we will do our best to have a volunteer come to their home.
Shana Tova and K’tiva V’chatima Tova.