Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
There are things happening in the world that boggle the imagination. We observe greed on a grand scale, sometimes even grander than we can imagine and we don’t even know how to pronounce the amounts involved. We see scenes of misery, the misery of the helpless, and wonder if there truly is any salvation. We witness, daily, the suffering of peoples because of indifference. We wonder about the hate that is permeated in schools and marketplaces and in halls of government. It is no wonder that we feel despair and helplessness.
A great scholar commented after witnessing the slaughter of the First Crusade:
“We are a generation that lacks someone to pray for us.” Those words ring true today. The world sits idly by as Jews are slaughtered in all parts of the world. Israel faces enemies on all sides and is faulted for wanting to exist. Is the family of man content to let Jews die because of complacency? Are we not seeing this in our lifetime? And we wonder, “Who will listen?”
When the media, by design, elaborates on the plight of the Palestinians and ignores the constant barrage of bombs and insults and indoctrinations in school texts, no one counters these lies and distortions. We write articles, such as this one, to ourselves because no one else will print the truth. The influence we are supposed to have is really a myth.
The headlines read about injustice and inhumanity and callousness – not only toward Jews but the helpless people who have remained so because leaders and countries would rather use them to intimidate and denounce the ability to survive. The voices of Auschwitz tell us that we Jews are commanded to survive and that we are forbidden to despair of the righteousness of mankind.
But who will listen? We talk to each other, we write to each other, we commiserate with each other and we publish to each other. We write books and we produce movies, but we don’t answer the charges and respond to the propaganda. The headlines are misleading but there is no rebuttal, no taking to task those enterprises that spew the falsehoods.
When Palestinians are hurt, where is the media showing the care and attention they receive in Israeli hospitals? Where is the notice made of the contributions Israel has made to the betterment of humankind? Why are not the medical breakthroughs or intellectual advancements or engineering and technical marvels revealed so that everyone will know that Israel is a contributor to the survival of all of God’s children?
Who will listen when we say with hands outstretched that all we want is to live in our little corner of the world, continuing to develop those tools necessary for peace, not war? Who will listen when we encourage brotherhood? Who will listen when we speak of life, not death?
I am reminded of the words I once read about a martyr, during the height of the Roman Empire, who whispered with his last breath: “There is not a street in all of Rome where someone is not killed by the sword, and this evil nation will continue to shed innocent blood. My last advice to you is: Care for one another, love peace and justice; perhaps there is yet some hope.”
There is and will always be hope and faith and the wish for eternal peace. But who will listen? When will we realize that silence and appeasement only encourage the hate mongers and the murderers?
Who will listen? God will listen but sometimes needs a helping hand.