I have grown up with hatred. I have grown up with the knowledge that my people, the Jewish people, have been subject to hatred for thousands of years.
I grew up with distrust. Distrust and anger.
I was angry that the world sat back and watched my people get killed during the years of Holocaust. As I grew older I learned more of our tragic Jewish history. I learned about the Romans and how they slaughtered my people. I learned about the Church and the Jew-hatred they spread throughout many lands. I learned about the pogroms, the massacres and genocides.
I learned that as much as we tried to integrate into our host societies, "You never called us Son, you only called us Jew".
As I dug deeper I learned that we too were not free from blame. I learned that it was Jewish civil war that led to the Romans conquering our land. Anger and jealousy between two royal brothers led to Roman intervention and our loss of independence. That foolish pride would ultimately lead to our national destruction and all the horrors that followed.
I learned that our Temple was destroyed, not only because of the Romans but also because of multiple civil wars between the Jews. No one could accept the leadership of another. No one could submit to the rule of another. And, no one could forgive.
Recently the Jewish people observed the day of "Tish'a B'Av" (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av), the day both temples were destroyed (as well as other calamities). As I sat in the synagogue and heard the reading of our ancient scrolls about this horrible day, I reflected.
There is no mention of our guilt. It is all about our enemies, and asking why did God forsake us. But I believe there is another message to this sad day. And that message is tolerance.
Tolerance and Forgiveness. That is what I believe in now.
It was intolerance and a lack of forgiveness, on all sides, that led to this and other tragedies. It is only through tolerance and forgiveness that we can move ahead in life and achieve something better.
I know this is difficult. It took me many years to see the "others" as equally human; it took me a long time to accept that others have a different way of life and a different interpretation of life. We cannot expect to change everyone to believe and live as we do, we must accept our differences.
I know this is possible because, through my IKI (Israeli Krav International) experience I have felt it first hand. I have sat in Germany and Israel with Germans. I have been to Masada with Italians, descended from those who defeated our people at Masada. I have spent time in Israel with Chaldeans, whose Babylonian ancestors destroyed our first Temple. I have sat in Holland with Jews, Germans, Dutch and Belgians, and unlike 65 years ago – now we train together in peace.
We can hold on to anger, we can hold on to pride and the wrongs that were done to us, and we can bring destruction upon us all. Or, we can let go of anger, "pride", and our own sense of "Justice", and move ahead to peace and tolerance.
There is a time for war, a time for fighting and killing. But war and fighting must always be the last resort. Decisions influenced by arrogance, pride, jealousy and hatred - are always the wrong decisions.
Many nations have bloody histories, many wars have been fought, many wrongs have been committed. Let us learn from the mistakes of the past and may the land finally rest from bloodshed.