We were sitting on the stone wall across from ourapartment in our peacefulJerusalem neighborhood late on a Friday night. All wasquiet. I commented on the geographic irony of the situation.Violent riots, explodingbombs only a few kilometers away, yet here we felt andheard nothing.
"It must have been like this in Europe before thewar," she said. "People werejust living their lives, unable to believe that acatastrophe was around thecorner. Those who stayed didn't want to give up theirhomes, their lives."
Her words aroused a twinge of fear for a second, untilI realized that thesituations were not equal.
I told my friend, who is not Jewish, that leavingEurope and leaving Israel werenot equivalent. That I actually was more certain thanI had thought a momentbefore about the answer to her question. No, we wouldnot leave. This countrywas created so that Jews would never have to leaveanywhere ever again. Whatwould be the point of a Jewish State if I were to pickup and leave it themoment things got dangerous? What about all thesacrifices, the blood spilt toensure that the Jews had a haven? How could I betrayall that?
When she first asked the question, it was as if I hadmomentarily forgotten myvalues. I felt as if the larger culture was acting onme without my awareness:the culture prevalent in the U.S. and much of theWestern world that puts theindividual's needs and comforts first.
And if we forget, will our children ever know it?