From kidney privilege to killing fields
The Friday night before 7 October is burned into my memory. It was the start of the final few days of Sukkot, and we spent the evening having dinner with friends. We were poorly behaved, laughed a lot, said outrageous things, and collectively came up with several columns that I had to write in the coming few weeks.
One of those columns was to be about “kidney privilege”. Because back on 6 October, there seemed to be an increasing amount of selfless people who had dispensed with one kidney to help another who needed one more than they required two. Often the recipients were strangers. I was starting to foresee a time when those of us who had selfishly decided to hold on to both would be publicly shamed and possibly labelled “organ hoarders”, while those who had accepted the donation would be referred to as previously disadvantaged kidney persons (PDKP).
Having already dispensed with my appendix and my hair, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to having my other organs harvested while still alive, and didn’t particularly want to part with anything further just to qualify for government contracts under the PDKP.
I needn’t have worried. Because the events that began at 06:30 the following morning on 7 October 2023, would make my kidney shaming anxiety seem as absurd as the information that we were starting to receive.
A month into the war in Gaza, and we’re still trying to process the horror, shock, and magnitude of the Hamas attacks. As with any major global event, there’ll always be a before the seventh and after it. And we’ll always know where we were when we heard the news.
And yet there’s much that we’ve already learned, and there are hard realities that we’ve been forced to face. This is my working list in progress.
- Much like a child who comes of age when they realise that their parents aren’t all powerful, I’ve learned that as strong as Israel might be, she’s still vulnerable. Mistakes can be made, balls can be dropped, and systems can fail;
- I’ve learned, much like a young person becoming an adult who recognises that they might be required to offer support to their parents, Israel and her people require ours. Without judgement. Because sometimes just showing up, showing support, and expressing love is all we can do;
- I’ve learned that some people who I thought were smart and balanced when it comes to Jews and Israel are just smart;
- And I’ve realised that they won’t allow a mirror to be held too close to them. Lest it shatter the internal view of themselves;
- I’ve learned that antisemitism is sometimes so deep that the person harbouring the prejudice would pass a lie detector test if asked if they were antisemitic;
- I’ve learned not to cheapen ourselves by “proving” that Hamas killed babies and raped women. Because even if I did display our dead and our brutalised, they would dismiss it. Because the suffering of Jews doesn’t move them;
- I’ve learned that intellectual and academic-speak often hides hideous hate; and
- And I’ve learned that sleep is important. Because I miss it.
Mostly I’ve learned the value of our Jewish community. And of faith and of prayer. I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to be silent, and that antisemitism kills.
I’ve learned to love our people. And I’ve learned that the power in each of us and in all of us will ensure that we thrive. Yachad nenatzeach (together we’ll win)!