• Violence must stop
    July 26,2014

    Violence must stop

    I have a “soul sister” who is Palestinian. She is an internationally known consultant (Master of Social Work, Rutgers, and Harvard Kennedy School fellow) who works around the world to heal victims of trauma. She lives in Ramallah and has a spirit and a heart larger than life itself. Laila was a student of mine, 30 years ago, when I taught English as a second language for the New Jersey Commission for the Blind. She became part of my family and I, a part of hers.

    In 1992, I had the good fortune to travel and visit Laila, something we had always talked about. This was my second trip to Israel. During the first one, in 1982, I visited relatives of mine and worked on kibbutzim.

    During this second trip in 1992, I also worked on an educational story project between Vermont children and Palestinian students. I traveled to Golan Heights and Gaza, visited many Palestinian families throughout the West Bank, talked with Palestinian artists, writers, activists, visited community and day care centers, etc. I also spoke with Israelis: those working for peace, Israeli kids and Israeli soldiers. I have never been treated so lovingly in all of my travels with a people who I feel embody all of the Jewish values that I was raised with: respect for elders and love of family, the importance of education, humor, a sense of the importance of community, generosity to those in need and a love of life itself.

    I felt times were desperate for Palestinians 22 years ago.

    I find myself very tearful and also very angry. How can we, as Americans, allow ourselves to blindly let our government fund Israel?

    I am a second-generation American. I listened to hours of stories from my grandparents and great-aunts and -uncles of the poverty, prejudice, discrimination and limited opportunities for education and meaningful work they experienced in the early 1900s as Eastern European Jews. My father’s parents lost their parents, siblings and all relatives who did not come to America.

    Time is pressing. The earth needs healing, and we are all connected. The physicists can now tell us scientifically what all true faiths and spiritual sages have always said: “Separation is an illusion.” By continuing to kill Palestinian civilians and justify this in the name of security, I believe Israel is acting like an adult from a family of physical and emotional abuse — living and behaving in ways they vowed never to do.

    I know that I am not alone in my deep reaction to the violence being committed with my tax dollars.

    Wendy Freundlich


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