Regarding the Events of 3 May 2024


Opinionator Andrew Silow-Carroll gets it, and explains it better than I ever could.

In ‘Bring them home’ means different things to Israelis and American Jews, I fall under the latter category.

Please give it a read.

On Friday, the 3rd of May, 2024, I, a lifelong secular Jew, received an unsolicited music video from my friend Heshy Walfish, via another friend, known professionally as Country Yossi, both fellow Jews, who asked me to share it to boost its exposure. Both gentlemen are well known among the local religious Jewish community for their amusing and educational songs and song parodies, as well as a call-in radio quiz show. I tend toward the secular, less religious side of things, but when I stumbled upon the show years ago, it made me laugh, so I got permission to turn it into a public podcast in its final years. Although largely retired, when the muse strikes them to write a parody, they do (I used to write song parodies professionally, and I sometimes do again, too). This video was a lyrical adaptation of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," from the musical Les Misérables, which tells of drinking buddies who no longer gather at a tavern because they became casualties of war. With a little re-working, Heshy turned it into a plea for the safe return of the Israeli Hostages, accompanied by understandably graphic images of the after-effects of the ongoing war.

While I usually shy away from hot-button political issues on X, formerly known as Twitter, it happened that at the recently completed Passover holiday, which tells the story of ancient Jews exiting slavery in Egypt, many families adapted the traditional rituals and readings to honor the modern day hostages. Add to that the current protests on college campuses, including my son's where protesters clashed with Jewish students, the song moved me to lift my silence and post it on social media, along with a brief message of support, and accompanying hashtag and emojis. I realized this was risky, but I naïvely hoped that cooler heads would prevail for a largely humanitarian endeavor. Although many people have observed that the initial message could have been construed as fairly innocuous to a large number of readers, you can guess what happened next.

Within seconds, replies of "Free Palestine" were coming fast and furious. And when the going gets tough, I get snarky, because comedy is my first line of defense. Always has been. My knee-jerk reaction (which I double-standardly chastise others for, I now recognize in hindsight) was to double-down on being Jewish, since I had read articles by various Jewish support organizations about the underlying antisemitism of some slogans associated with the movement, although the bulk of the posts to which I replied did not overtly share anti-semitic statements. I'm sorry I claimed that they did. At that moment of a deluge of replies, I wasn't able to articulate my support for the innocent people rather than the warring governments. If I had a do-over, I'd do better. But now there is this statement, instead.

Let me go on the record and state that most of my replies were the wrong choice here. My initial responses, wielding self-deprecating ethnic stereotypes and references to ritual circumcision, sounded better in my head than they looked on the screen. They provided ample hater-fodder and led many to the erroneous notion that I was hacked. I also engaged in some uncalled-for personal attacks. I'm sorry I didn't choose more considerate words, and take things seriously, and I wish I could dispose of those via a time machine, because that does not accurately reflect my feelings, nor the gravity of the matter. I should have definitely handled that better. I'm extremely sorry I did not.

Then came the inevitable questions about my thoughts on every aspect of the current conflict, and in the heat of the moments of trying to respond to everyone simultaneously, I couldn't think those answers through properly. Now, with a blank document in front of me and the luxury of time, I can. We started to address these in the X Space I hosted, but my X app started to crash, likely because my phone was overdue for a reboot, so I gave up at 12:30 am, planning to go to bed and re-address things in the morning. Instead I'm responding here rather than in another Space so I can give the issues some proper thought: 

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Zionist in the political sense of the term, often associated with colonialism and genocide. I'm against that. I can endorse the traditional sense of the word, which is Jews having a homeland to call their own. Every group, including Palestinians, should have some kind of safe haven, but I don't know how to solve that problem with the current feuding that's continuing, or where those safe spaces can be. That's why neither entity involved has asked me for ideas. For that they need an expert.

As for the conflict throughout history, including the current war, I don't have any thoughts, suggestions or any support for either government involved. Again, that's why they never call me. You shouldn't be surprised if a Jew is at least slightly biased towards Israel, since that's where all our Biblical history took place, and that bias was reflected in me sharing the hostage-supporting song I did, but rest assured, as for the overall conflict, my actual concern extends to the Palestinian civilians, in equal measure, as well. I don't support either side's violence and killing. All the civilians (I have cousins in Israel) on both sides should live safely and not know from fear. All hostages should come home, sooner rather than later. I'm sorry I didn't mention the Palestinian prisoners in a follow-up post initially, so I'm correcting that error by mentioning them here. The folks in charge should keep those prisoner/hostage swaps going so more people get released.

The two sides should put down their weapons, negotiate peacefully and figure out some resolution to their disagreements so that Israelis and Palestinians alike can live freely and equally. Not specifying that earlier was insensitive to my Palestinian supporters, and all the innocents in Palestine, and I’m sorry I screwed that up. Now I’ll know better.

I'll repeat, I don't know what that resolution might be. I'm not a military commander. But I hope there are Foreign Relations experts who can fix this situation.

And while we're making statements, despite claims to the contrary, I can confirm my support for all human rights, including, but not limited to, race, religion, gender, or nationality. Everyone should have the right to exist. If anyone questions that, you can refer them back here, and to my previous online debunking.

As for any fallout with work, there's been some already. I hope there's some room for tolerance somewhere in the audience.

We'll see what my future on Social Media can be, but as of now, I think I've said enough.

Further edits to this screed may be made, as necessary.