Sound of Silence

In Israel it seems we are always surrounded by noise. There is always news, always action.

We heard the world buzzing like angry hornets at the announcement that Israel is going to build more housing, on our land, in our capital and next to our capital.

The Israeli media has been rumbling with election intrigue and gossip. There is always something to say… Here even seemingly negligible gossip can end up having life and death consequences.

But on December 14th everything stopped. Newtown was news, not Israel.

20 children went to school in the morning and would never come home to their parents. 6 grown-ups died trying to save children. Precious children gunned down senselessly. Good people murdered. What could be more horrifying?

Unfortunately we know all too well what it is like to have your loved ones ripped from you by violence.

The images of the murdered children rolled across our tv and computer screens, the news focused not on our troubles but on what had occurred in Sandy Hook, possible motives and discussions of gun control.

I have heard some well-meaning people compare between this school massacre and the terrorism we experience. There are some similarities – but the ones most significant are left unmentioned.

The people of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide have experienced attacks, attacks directed at children and even attacks on schools (does anyone remember the school in Toulouse?). We also have countless stories of heroic people who saved others at risk to their own lives, sometimes losing their life in the process. In this, Sandy Hook is very similar to the Jewish experience.

There is however a huge difference between random violence, vicious and horrifying as it was, and the violence of terrorists who specifically aim to kill us, to kill our children because of our race/religion. One murderer was an accident of a society that did not notice his derangement. The other is an outcome of a society focused on murder and destruction – and people who stand by, who stand silent and allow this to happen.

That is the linking thread that people do not speak about. To me, it seems like the most important point – for Israel, for Sandy Hook and for people around the world who don’t want to see this scenario played out with their children in “starring” roles.

The connection is silence.

Martin Luther King Jr. said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. I have heard many people going on and on about gun rights – pro and con. Lots and lots of talk.

Just as the world stands by silently as Jews are murdered, as Israelis are denied the right to live freely in their own country, just as the world buzzes with all kinds of reasons, excuses and justification for standing silent (or active enablement) – I have heard no mention of the cause of the murders in Newtown.

Guns did not cause the murders, deep-rooted sickness did. How many people noticed that Adam Lanza was disturbed? How many people saw something was wrong and said nothing?

Silence can kill.

Ignoring “someone else’s problem”, letting your eyes slide off a person as if they are invisible can be very, very dangerous. Lack of compassion for the individual, lack of caring for the community can cause serious problems.

“Those people over there” need to become people with names and faces. We need to care. Moreover – we must not be silent.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out 
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out 
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out 
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out 
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

~Pastor Martin Niemoller


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