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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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It’s My Opinion: Climbing Up And Getting Down


Recently a young man and woman climbed a giant banyan tree that stands in Bayside Marketplace in Miami. The tree is known for the initials and names of many sweethearts carved on its limbs. Perhaps the duo had plans to make their own mark on the tree’s bark. Perhaps they were thinking of enclosing theirs in a big heart. We will never know.

The couple had a pleasant start to their adventure. They conversed. They laughed. They climbed. They enjoyed the leafy abode. Then, the young lady looked down. She had a shocking revelation.

The ground seemed very far away. She panicked. She cried for help. She swooned. Her boyfriend could not calm her.

Luckily, Marketplace staff heard her cries and called Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. The crew used a harness to bring her down. Although the department has had experience with cats, this was the first time it had been called to rescue an adult woman stuck in a tree.

Before we dismiss this incident as an amusing little anecdote, having nothing to do with our own lives, let us examine the indications of the story. It is a narrative that has repercussions for all. It is the classic tale of those who engage in well-meaning activity and then find themselves stuck.

It is often quite easy to get into a situation. When the situation gets sticky, it is often really hard to get out.

The lonely neighbor who was welcomed in for a cup of coffee and is now a permanent fixture in one’s home or the coworker who was given a ride and now expects transportation every day are just some examples of such personal quandaries.

When the dilemma affects individuals the problem is limited. When the predicament faces a nation, the results can be devastating on a very wide scope.

In 1947, the United Nations called for the creation of two states: one for the Jews and one for the Arabs. The Jews were happy to have their tiny portion. The Arabs were not so agreeable and started a war they lost.

Events do not happen in a vacuum. It is easier to understand the second Iraq War in the context of a post-9/11 American mentality than it is to understand Israel’s actions in 1948 in the light of a Jewish post-Holocaust mind set.

Israel’s declaration of independence was read to a packed hall in Tel Aviv by David Ben-Gurion. The document conferred “full and equal citizenship” to Israel’s Arab population. Jews around the world wept and danced in the streets. Israel would soon have much to cry about. Israeli leaders had created a fifth column in their midst.

After sixty-six years of war, mayhem, bloodshed and wasted unilateral concessions by Israel, the Arabs of the country still do not want to live side by side with the Jews. Their maps and books and flags show “Palestine,” and it covers every inch of the land of Israel.

The Jews wanted to be kind. They wanted to reach out. They wanted to be better than the other nations.

They climbed the tree. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know how to get down.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.

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One Response to “It’s My Opinion: Climbing Up And Getting Down”

  1. moshe11215 says:

    Dear Shelley, you wrote, “Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know how to get down.”
    Today there’s a group of men and women who do know how to get down; they call themselves the Jewish Leadership Movement led by MK Moshe Feiglin. You’re welcome to come on board – http://jewishisrael.org

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