- Posted July 23, 2014 by
Newark, New Jersey
This iReport is part of an assignment:
New violence in Israel and West Bank
Israel Vs. Gaza--Am I Wrong For Pro-Peace?
I am all for free speech. I am a Catholic and an educator. "I defend to the death your right to say it [opinions]." Recently on Instagram, someone posted a bloody shot of a dead Islamic child with the caption "I'm going to stomp on sight all ISRAELIS that I see today."
My reaction? WHHHATTT?
I commented in a peaceful manner, stating that fighting and death on BOTH sides is wrong. We cannot judge an entire country based of the actions of a few rebels, terrorists, and often times, corrupt government. The response back?
"If you're not going to talk about shooting Israelis with me, don't comment!"
"You need to educate yourself. Israelis are evil! They should be shot death, blown up for killing children in Gaza. You need to die right along with them."
People think because I am a Catholic, I MUST side along with Israel. Truth is, I don't. But I also do not side with Hamas, or Gaza (Hamas being an identified terrorist group, but I guess these people ignored that fact?).
I do believe that fighting and violence is wrong. I blame Israel and Gaza for being too prideful to come to peace. Neither Allah nor Yahweh would promote this kind of war, a war fought by men, a war where children and innocent adults die. And it shames me more, as an American, that people would judge an entire country based on the actions of a few. American is constantly being judged and hated as a chauvinistic society, all about the money, never about people or freedom. Every time I hear that I say, " That's not me! That's not ALL of us!"
In that case, I should judge Muslims as violent, because those wishing death to me were, in fact, Muslim.
But then I'd be spreading the hate, promoting ignorance, and being untrue to the ideals to which I hold myself and my students in my classroom.
I spent a long time this school year breaking down my students ideas that Islam is a violent religion. My students believed that Muslims liked to blow up buildings, kill and rape women (and child brides), that women were stifled in their lives and were slaves to men. My students believed that Allah was a savage, a savage who wanted to bring women down and promote violence to those of a different race and religion. It made me cry (after school) to think that all this information was given to them by others who were neither educated nor truly cared about facts. I went as far as quoting from the Quran. I reminded them that the actions of a few rebels is not indicative of an entire religion, a religion that is truly peaceful and promotes understanding, relations with all people, and even honors the JEWISH man Abraham as someone important to Allah and Islam as a whole. I also reminded them that at one point, both Jews and Christians were considered "savages, thugs, violence-promoting thieves" by others around the world.
Again, I was berated as a Muslim-hater, someone who needs to be shot because I "don't want to stomp out every Israeli on sight."
I weep for these people, both Jewish and Muslim, who keep up with this violence. Those extremists who use violence as a "means to an end" and thus create the stigma that THE RELIGION ITSELF is violent and corrupt.
I weep for those Americans who continue with the naive lifestyle to which they were raised. They fail to truly educate themselves on what their God commands, yet use violence and put God's name into it because "He allows them to kill others."
I weep for those who live in our country and cannot handle a simple, opposing viewpoint. These people are close-minded, and, in my mind, the main reasons stigmas and discrimination against Jews and Islams alike exist.
We have a Constitution that calls for peace and acceptance of all people who seek a new start in a "Free country", yet we are throwing rocks at immigrant children who are trying to just receive a better education and a chance to be successful. (Remember, our country was founded by IMMIGRANTS seeking religious freedom, but that's for another day).
I weep for our youth, because there are not many teachers like me out there who will take the time to go against curriculum in a Catholic School and teach about ALL religions.
I just knew no better way to break down these stigmas before they were passed on to their children, their children's children, so on and so forth. I needed to educate in order to turn my students' perceptions into honest truthful answers. If they are going to continue judging, at least now they have factual information from all sides to make those judgements. For this, I feel, as an educator, I have done my job.
Again, I am not Pro-Israel. I am not Pro-Gaza. I am Pro-Peace. I live in Newark, NJ a city filled with violence, gang terrorists, and even a city in fear due to the violence between gangs and police in Jersey City (yes, we feel the effects here as well). I've lost many friends to street violence, guns, gang wars--a good friend of mine died just a week ago, shot dead on a street in the middle of the night, unable now to take care of his disabled mother. I am tired of the violence both here and overseas.
Forget Catholicism, forget education. Forget religion, forget politics.
As a human being, I cannot condone the violence against people. We are slowly turning back to hate to justify our actions. When will enough be enough? How many more lives must end in order to achieve a peaceful coexistence?
I am Pro-Peace. And I pray for all those involved with this war and fighting. It doesn't matter, Jew, Gentile, Muslim--I pray for you. And that is truly from the bottom on my heart.