Yesterday I took these pictures of flagpoles at two Jewish centers that are across the street from one another in Cedarhurst, Long Island: the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Kulanu center for special services for Jewish kids.
As you can see, on both flagpoles, two flags are at half-staff. Not just the Israeli flag, but the American one.
It’s not clear to me why any Jewish organizations in the United States should be in mourning for an Israeli prime minister. We’re not in Israel. The flagpoles are indicative of ways of thought that have entwined us in very bad patterns. The same can be said about Hillel International’s guidelines telling Hillel chapters what they can and can’t talk about. Why should Hillel have any concern about how American students talk about Israel?
Then of course there’s Ariel Sharon’s legacy. A large part of his reputation is as a butcher. His entire life was dedicated to military ventures, many of them brutish. The Lebanon invasion killed thousands across that country, even before the massacres in Beirut. His reputation began in 1953 when he led a unit that carried out reprisal raids on Palestinian villages for Palestinian attacks on Israelis; in one of them, his unit slaughtered 69 people.
And now Americans– including Palestinian-Americans — can look at this display, for children, and say, You see, they’re revering a murderer.