stabbed in the back


I don’t usually write about the internal politics of my country. Nor do I write about the endless conflicts between Israel and the Arab world. I know that it is very difficult to understand such things without a lot of research into the subject. It is too easy to adopt an image already familiar to us, and to project that image on the situation less known, and draw conclusions. For instance, since childhood, I have had a tendency to look at molecular and atomic physicality in much the way I see astronomical spaces. Each realm of space seems a parable on the other.

I can assure you, my dear reader, that I am not a racist, and have no desire to see people in stereotypes. My first housemate, a man I lived with before I got married, was an Arab. We were friends and lived in harmony together, here in Jerusalem. I got to know his family and friends, and through the years… up until the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, I had a number of Arab friends, with whom I shared common interests.

I know there are fine Arab people living in our country who wish no harm to anyone, and wish to live their lives in peace; wish to enjoy their careers, their learning, their worship of god, and bringing up a family. Not all Arabs are terrorists. But 99% of the terrorists in our country are Arabs.

It’s been a little over a year since our last war, with the Palestinians of the Gaza strip. We had given them a piece of land, in which Jews had lived for more than a hundred years, pulled out all the Jews… given them all the land… plus farms and factories… and they had immediately gone on to fight us in every way they knew how. Including shooting rockets at innocent people within our borders. The so-called ‘occupied territories’ were taken in war, after we were attacked. We have been attacked long before the modern state of Israel came into being. Before there were ‘occupied territories’, and before there was a state. Our communities, and people within our communities were attacked when we were an English colony, and even before that, when we were a Turkish colony. We have heard ideological explanations for rape, murder and stabbings for generations. We have continuously searched for peace, and only fought when our backs were to the wall and we had no choice but to fight.

I have had friends killed for no other reason than that they were Jewish. I have had close family members murdered.

At present, we are facing a new wave of violence in our country. Not surprisingly, it started during our holiday season. They have tried different methods in the past. They have organized in different ways, and tried everything from sabotage to suicide bombings. They have been promised 72 virgins in heaven if they die fighting the Jews. Some of them are convinced. Others have sympathy. Right now, there is a wave of seeming ‘individuals’ who pick up a knife or a stone and try to murder a Jew.

I’m an old man. I’m too old to fight. Too old to help keep the peace. All I can do, is try to survive the heartbreak. I can’t share my thoughts on philosophy, art, or learning while suffering from the needless violence and chaos around me. I mourn the murdered, and cry for the wounded and deranged. I have nothing to say.


41 responses to “stabbed in the back

  1. My thoughts are with. It is all too sad.

  2. Dear Shimon. i am sure that at this stage in your life you would have hoped for the world to have moved on to a place of deeper understanding and compassion but of course that is far from the case. I fear for us all at this time……….you are very much in my thoughts. Janet xx

  3. Very worrying and frightening. Not sure what the answer is.

  4. Shimon, this is so sad to read. I hope things, while they might not resolve, at least get better for your and for everyone. Love to you.

  5. Very sad. Be safe.

  6. There is much to mourn for Shimon, sad to say.
    Hugs xxx

  7. My prayers are with you, every day.

  8. Much like India and Pakistan though we were one nation before the British left… Take care.

  9. I hear your pain and your helplessness. I have no understanding of this greed that spills out of the human heart and leaves the citizens, afraid and unable to live beautiful lives. It makes me so sad and frustrated and angry.

  10. Plus ça change . . . . .

  11. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and prayers. The world needs to hear from more people like you. שבת שלום

  12. Dear Shimon,
    My heart is deeply sad about this and know that you and your whole family are in thoughts and my prayers.
    Love, Vicky

  13. I too, send thoughts and prayers. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like living under such circumstances. I do believe that a cure is coming, and perhaps soon. I have experienced muslim onslaught first hand and tho I know there are good ones, I can’t stand the thought of them even existing. I am taking a warlike position and it likely won’t change. Love the photo.

  14. Shimon, I have been very quiet but want you to know that I support your country..It is disheartening to hear of the lack of support from our country in some ways. It is ugly out there but in the midst of all of the darkness, there is a light and his name is Jesus. Israel is highly favored and there will be a shaking,,is a shaking but I hold onto my faith and know that the creator of our universe has a plan. I don’t understand it all, but I do know that Darkness will not prevail.. I will focus in prayer today for your needs and those of your country. Shalom..friend…

  15. It is so sad that men as decent and deep thinking as yourself should have your life blighted by the ever tightening cycle of bitterness and fighting

  16. I think you have said it very well and we mourn with you over all the hatred against the apple of God’s eye, the Jewish nation. Our prayers continue with you and the nation of Israel always. Shalom.

  17. I carry your sadness in my heart, Shimon, and wish you great and gentle peace.

  18. Shimon, my mother taught me that if you can’t find anything nice to say about people, you should remain silent. I manage to succeed most of the time, but I have to work very hard at it. Lately, very hard.

  19. Shimon , Sadness for you …I send love , megxxx

  20. So sad to feel this way, Mr. Shimon. This week, we have had 3 shootings in three different universities in U.S. two that happened today. The world is getting mad, that is how I feel now…

  21. I have followed the problems in your part of the world and have a lot of sympathy for Israel. I also know Israel was under attack within hours of its creation; the young being the victims. I also know the problems are getting closer to my peaceful state, New Zealand, just 2000 miles from Australia now having its own terrorist problems. I am now a great-grandfather and fear for the future of my young offspring.

  22. One sentence really struck me hard: Not all Arabs are terrorists, but 99% of the terrorists are Arabs. Enough said.

  23. There is nothing to say, yet the grief speaks for you – and for me. It is relentless, a record that keeps repeating in a groove so worn it is stuck there in its revolutions. Around and around, more devastation and heartbreak. I ache. I ache with you.

  24. It’s a barbarous world, Shimon. You can’t afford to give up on philosophy, art or learning. And as long as you have a pen you don’t need to pick up a gun to fight. I’d like to read what you have to say. It would make a pleasant change from the loony left propaganda that’s forced on us daily.

    • It is always enlightening to hear the story from those who actually live in the area and can help us understand their culture and beliefs. We live in a whole different world here in the United States it would seem. Even though we have lots of crime, it is nothing compared to your wars.

  25. Right now, all over the middle east the situation is really terrible… there are no words to express the feelings we have every time we hear what’s going on over there. These is insanity, savage foolishness connected to “religious believing”… But who is to blame? The thirst for power and hatred, bring the human being to a kind of mental slavery …
    I’m praying for the peace once all over the world…

  26. It is impossible to understand this from the perspective of someone living in Jerusalem, who has had to witness longstanding horrors and acts of war that decimate the lives of innocent people. It is impossible for me to understand a religious doctrine that believes that the truest way to show your devotion to your God is to kill your neighbors.

    It is all so broken. So fractured, and twisted. Warped.

    I mourn with you for all the innocent lives that have been lost.

    From one person to another, I mourn with you, and pray for peace.

  27. When things are bad – I remember the Buddhist quote about the Lotus flower that always finds the sun, even in the muddiest of pools.
    This blog with your words & images is like the Lotus: so do not give in……………


  28. I’m an old friend of ShimonZ, and ever since I can remember the Israel-Palestinian struggle has been considered some kind of unique phenomenon almost a meta-event and unusual in modern history. I suggest that our endless conflict now can be put in the context of cultural inheritance. It is clear from recent happenings that wherever there are Muslim nation states there is violence- from Afghanistan in the distant heartland of Asia to the ancients birthplaces of world civilization in Iraq and Syria. The conclusion seems inevitable that there is something in Islam and that culture that inevitably spawns violence and intolerance of neighbors harboring other traditions and beliefs. On the other hand the Jews for the past 2000 years have inherited a culture of passivity and non-violence even in the face of existential danger and it is only recently that with the establishment of the Jewish state has this inheritance begun to change. For more on this idea the readers of ShimonZ might look up an article in the NY TIMES which I found quite a challenging idea.

    Canada’s History of Violence
    OCT. 9, 2015
    Gray Matter

  29. I pray for peace and tranquility, for my precious children and grandchildren, and for everyone else living in Israel.

  30. Oh Shimon, my heart truly aches for you. You have born witness to far too many wars and have seen far too much irrational hatred. I would feel exactly as you do, yet, another reader here spoke of your gift with the pen, you don’t know who you may influence with your sanity and wisdom, please keep writing, about whatever it is that’s on your mind. I hope, really, really hope that things calm down and that peace is restored. I have never lived through war, and haven’t lost family and friends, I can’t imagine the horror of it all. All I can do is send you my love….and hope for peace….be strong my dear friend.xxxxxxx

  31. Shimon, difficult as it may be, please don’t give up writing about philosophy, art and learning. Often, that’s the only way to stay sane when the darkness is closing in. That’s why I will always hold on to my music. If you give up, you let the forces of evil win.
    Praying for a brighter tomorrow.

    Your fellow Jerusalemite (and sort-of namesake),


  32. I feel for you Shimon. I too am not a racist but we are expected to be tolerant of a people that worship a religion that does not preach tolerance. Our own politicians have sown the seeds for the kind of conflict that Israel sadly faces, When concerns are raised, terms like Islamaphobia are used. A phobia is an irrational fear. I don’t think it’s irrational to fear a race of people whose religion and philosophy preaches the kind of intolerance and discrimination outlawed long ago in the mature liberal democracies that have invited them in.
    In communities across Europe, Muslims are calling for Sharia law to be recognised and enforced. Why would people who do not believe in Allah and whose lives therefore have no meaning and are not be respected, not fear such a thing.
    Political correctness I fear might, quite literally, be the death of us.

  33. Only through strength and military resolve can these problems be contained. Unfortunately, for the first time in modern Israel’s history, the United States president has NOT been a friend of Israel. This leadership weakness (the red line in the Syrian sand is a prime example) is being felt all over the Middle East.

    If you can hang on for 16 months, until we get Obama out of the presidency, I believe that never again will Israel (and its Prime Minister) be treated to a diet of complacency and deceit.

    Your long-time readers are encouraging you to keep the faith and keep writing. I wrote my thesis on WG Sebald’s 2001 novel, Austerlitz, and in the course of the year that I researched memory and the Holocaust, I was struck by the many good people who continued to tell stories and write…their bravery, pluck, and desire to never give in to evil. You can do the same, Shimon.

  34. The situation is very sad, and has been for so long. It’s not right. I don’t know what the answer is. It seems like the answer to one issue brings problems for other issues. It is such a shame that innocent people cannot live in peace, without the threat of losing their lives or those of their loved ones. You should be able to enjoy the beauty of your country with it’s rich history and culture.

    Keep writing. You write beautifully. You teach through your writing. We need to continue hearing your voice and that of so many others. Keep writing. Keep hoping. Keep praying. I know I will.

  35. Dear Shimon, It continues to be heartbreaking to watch the news that comes to us…just want you to know you are so dearly held in my heart, and to ask that, if you able, you let us know you are safe. Peace and love, my dear friend.

  36. For an individual to be stabbed in the back physically by an unknown, unseen assailant is one thing. For an entire nation to be stabbed in the back by incompetent or ill-willed allies is something else. Be sure of this: there are many in the U.S. who are following events in your country with a combination of horror, anger and disgust. The disgust is not for you, but for our pusillanimous leaders.

    I found this article by Jonathan Sacks to be relevant, creative, and comforting. Perhaps it could be so for you. His last paragraph may be enough, if you’re not in the mood for longform reading:

    “True creative minorities fight the battles of tomorrow, not those of yesterday. The Judeo-Christian ethic will, in my view, be reborn the moment there is a feeling that something new and momentous has occurred to heal the oldest injured relationship in the history of the West. When that day comes, Jews and Christians will stand together in their fight against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East; in defence of the legitimacy of the State of Israel as the place where the Jewish nation was born in ancient times, and reborn in ours; and as joint witnesses to the power of an ethic of love, forgiveness, and the sanctity of human life, to offer a more compelling ground of human hope than the new barbarisms, secular and religious. Nothing less than the future of the West is at stake.”

  37. It makes my heart really sore when I see what is going on there, Shimon. I’m so sorry for you, and hope that one day soon there will be an end to all this violence. Stay strong my friend.

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