At work, I receive a daily email filled with interesting news stories, newspaper articles, and videos that have been flagged by the civil rights division as relevant and useful to our jobs, but also to help us enrich our understanding of the ever-changing world we live in. Some articles speak of good news, of solidarity and bring hope to the workplace. This one brought tears.
The article I’ve linked above speaks very briefly about what actually happened in Egypt: a man ascended the Israeli embassy in Cairo, scaling the building, and removed the Israeli flag. He threw it to the ground and replaced it it with an Egyptian flag.
That’s painful enough. Israel and Egypt have co-existed for almost 35 years somewhat peacefully, save for a very small rebel faction, and as the rest of the world knew, once Mubarak was gone, it would all come into question. And it has, seen most literally in last weeks terror attack in the Negev that left 8 Israelis dead and dozens more injured.
But what bothers me most about the article in the Times? That it was the first I had heard about the Flagman. And that it mentioned nothing about the consequences of removing a flag from a foreign embassy.
For Israel, that flag was more than just a piece of printed and sewn fabric; for all of the Jewish people, the symbolism is much deeper. The star of david, the magen david, is the shield of David, the King who represents the ultimate time of hope within the Jewish religion, the King that will bring our salvation. The fact that the white and blue shield of David could fly freely over the streets of Cairo meant that Israel had finally acheived recognition by one of it’s Arab neighbors, enough recognition to warrant a spacial haven protected by the Egyptian government. For each nation’s embassy is as good as that nation’s land: it’s laws are primary, it offers protection to it’s citizens, and within it’s confines, the only government that can make law is the government that resides within it.
The article didn’t talk about what Flagman means for Israel and Israeli-Egypt relations. It didn’t talk about the symbolism of removing an Israeli flag from it’s own land on foreign soil, and it hardly mentioned that he was rewarded by the state with a fancy apartment and job.
It glorified the Flagman – whomever he is. It compared him to Spiderman, a childrens hero and vigilante who takes matters into his own hands when he can’t rely on the government or police, and showcased the competition that each of the perpetrators is knee-deep in. They both want glory. They both want recognition. For what? For throwing away that flag. For erasing Israel’s history, and Israel’s haven. For turning it into a land that once existed, replacing it with Egypt’s new republic.
Last week, I participated in a training for a program that deals strictly with anti-Semitism. In today’s world, the conversation would be incomplete if anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment was left out of the equation. Look at the cartoons that compare Netanyahu to Hitler, and then look at Hitler’s propaganda. What’s that saying about a duck? – I hear quacking.
Someone remarked to me this weekend that it seems as though the world is literally falling apart at it’s seams. We had a 5.8 earthquake in Virgina that reached all the way from Phoenix to Toronto, and we all felt the eart quiver under our feet. We experienced a hurricane that left thousands powerless and waterlogged, killing at least a dozen people in it’s path. And the Times published an article that totally disregarded a terrorist act; instead, glorified the terrorists.
We need to wake up.
Today is the start of the Hebrew month of Elul, which is a month of connection and growth. It’s intensity is tangible, and within it lies the power for all of us to come closer to our own potential. But the world has a lot of work to do. Many people are rebuilding physically their homes and basements, which they found filled with water, others are going back to school to work on building intellect and knowledge. Some are entering and ending new relationships, others rekindling old ones. All of this brings potential to make ourselves, and the world, a better place. But potential, like the truth, can always be ignored, and we can choose, like the author of the Times article, to ignore the real issue and focus on the external, dramatic, disgusting battle of two terrorists vying for a top spot.