Words Can Help or Hurt. Choose Responsibly.
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In a previous article, Six Phrases that Sabotage Your Self-Worth, I emphasized the narrative that our words create our world.
Words have the power to shape our reality.
Language is not just a way to communicate or interpret; language acts as a call to, or just as importantly, an inhibitor to action. — Shane Parrish.
Language is action.
This truth is particularly apparent in this profoundly challenging and historic moment for the Jewish people.
Here are some words and phrases worthy of being called out due to the level of carelessness and ignorance with which they are being bandied around.
Genocide – Before we utter that word with as much consideration as we might lend to expressions amid road rage, let’s precisely understand what we are saying. All acts of killing do not equate to genocide. And when we accuse a nation or a people of this highest form of crime, we are irrevocably damaging the relationship.
Occupy — Do you know enough history to understand what occupying a land or people means? Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, and since then, Gaza has been occupied, alright. It’s been occupied by Hamas, not Israel. Let’s educate ourselves if we speak on behalf of or against people we know nothing about.
Colonize — We can’t colonize a land that we are indigenous to. Calling the Jews colonizers and Israel a settler colonial state is like calling Native Americans colonizers in the United States.
Anti-semitism — Let’s just call this one what it is: Jew Hatred. Anti-semitism sounds like a neatly packaged gift someone unpacks by accident. Or a seasonal flu that can pass with the proper medication. What we are seeing on our campuses and around the world, how we are told to stand down and create space for Hamas to rape, mutilate and murder more of our people, is Jew-Hatred. Plain and simple.
It’s complicated — Sometimes, things are complicated. But years of coaching have me believing that more often, when we say something is complicated, it’s because we don’t want to look at it deeply enough and have to take action. “It’s complicated” is the hall pass for those who don’t want to risk taking a stand. Because what happened on October 7th and its consequences are not at all complicated. Simply, any country in the world that endured such a massacre and had hundreds of its people taken hostage would respond in the same way. We know this to be true because, well, 9/11.
From the River to the Sea — Is a call for genocide. A call to wipe out every Jew that lives in Israel — not complicated.
Proportionality — War is an unfortunate reality, and as such, there are rules that civilized nations have agreed to uphold during times of war. The key here is “civilized,” and terrorists are not civilized. When you wake up to your wife being raped, your infant child being placed in a lit oven, and your holocaust survivor parents being taken hostage, how would you respond proportionally? No, I want to know.
It’s relative — Moral relativity is the toxic air our children have breathed for decades. The result is the total moral inversion we are witnessing on our campuses. Our brightest minds — from Harvard to Stanford – don’t know right from wrong. They tear down and spit on posters of kidnapped children. They are proudly LGBQT for Palestine, totally ignorant that Hamas, the official government of Gaza, would hang them if they identified as themselves. Evil is not relative, and ignorance is not an excuse for an abysmally absent moral compass.
Ceasefire — This is the thing that existed on October 6th.
#NeverAgainIsNow — To all of you who are Pro Hamas and have taken to using this phrase in your social media, that’s called cultural appropriation, and you don’t get to do it. But hey, that’s great news! It means that one-third of your population was not intentionally murdered (speaking of genocide) in recent times.
Yes, words are potent. Use them consciously and know that in highly delicate moments, your words, if misused, are sticks and stones, and they hurt our bones.
We are Jews, and we will fight for our lives and our children’s lives, and your words will either help or hurt us. Please choose responsibly.
Photo: Power of Words by Mehdi Amini