A video interview followed by blog comment:
I feel a bond with this lady, a lady whom I have never met, and doubtless never will, a bond of love and a bond of kinship. That kinship has two strands, a Jewish strand and a human strand. The interesting question I ask myself is whether the Jewish strand is thicker than the human, non-religious/partisan, strand.
Of course, as a Jew, albeit ‘only’ culturally/emotionally (and Halachically) connected, without the ‘faith’ these days, as a Jew, I am very drawn to this lady. We are ‘family’, Am Yisrael, we are both members of our Jewish family, a very small family, only 0.02% of the world’s population (about 15 million), a family that, for millennia, and to this very day, literally, this very day, has been subjected to prejudice, hate and terror. The irony (and I don’t suppose the haters, the apologists, the terrorists ‘get’ this) is that the more we are victimised, the closer we get, the more we, metaphorically and literally, huddle together, the more obvious and clear becomes our longevity and steadfastness, our determination to survive against all the odds, to defend ourselves against the barrage of verbal, political, financial and physical attacks. All of that Darwinian survival science, all of the Darwinian theory of evolution, you can see it in this wonderful, courageous, big hearted lady’s expression…it’s in her eyes.
So, yes, I connect with this lady on a Jewish level but I also connect on a human level. I think that if I connected more on a Jewish than a human level, that would be a sad indictment on me as a person, it would imply/reflect a ‘selfishness’, it would perhaps reflect the very divisive nature of religion. I am, first and foremost, a human being, my humanist characteristics are, and they must be, bigger and stronger than my Jewish ‘characteristics’ and sympathies. If I feel more reviled by the Holocaust than do my non-Jewish brethren, that does not bode well for the future. The present is such that if there is to be a bright future, there can be no room for religious/cultural partisanship. I must, and I do, feel for everyone who is the object of hate in the sights and mind of the likes of Al Qaeda and AS. There is no doubt in my mind that the value system in the world today is such that white, northern European lives are ‘worth more’ than, say, the lives of black sub-Saharan African lives. This week, Kenyans have been massacred by Boko Haram but we have heard very little about it – what has happened in France, an absolute outrage, of course it is, but it has left no room in the media, tv, newspapers, social media etc for the death of black Africans.
I see in this lady’s expression, in her eyes, and in her actions, an inspiring human spirit of love, kindness, courage and giving, of selfless altruism. I bond with her more on a human level than on a Jewish level and, I believe, that is the only peg on which we can hang our coats of hope for the future, the undoubted existence, in some/many people, of love for our fellow man and woman.