The Ba'al Shem Tov Bitch-Slaps a Zionist

--This was originally published in Crapshoot in a slightly different form in 2002.

The Ba'al Shem Tov Bitch-Slaps a Zionist
(or Please Don't Shoot my Doggerel)

I had a dream that made me smile,
something I haven't had in a while.

A Zionist was haranguing me
as a boddhisatva wannabe,
my stance of wishing well for people,
(all the people)
ALL the people in that troubled land
that they would drop the totentanz
and live their lives in peace.

He quoted me both chapter and verse
that I was a self-hating Jew and worse,
that THEM, those others, were the devil,
insects, monsters, couldn't ever be a level
playing field cause all they wanted
was to see Jews driven out and hunted down.

He quoted rabbis, saints and sages
from this and then more ancient ages,
every quote designed to say
that I had fallen and betrayed
my people just by wishing well
for all there in that hell
they call the Middle East.

And then the Ba'al Shem Tov walked in
and looked at me and gave a grin
then turned to the Zionist, looked at him
and as he did, his face grew grim.

He spoke quite softly, gently sighing,
of pain and fear and death and dying,
children orphaned, mothers crying,
of homelessness and exile too,

"Which you should know if you're a Jew.
Diaspora -- did all those years
teach you nothing of the tears of others?
You don't know we all are brothers?
Call yourself an observant Jew?
And waste the gift that God gave you?

Yours is not the only life,

Yours is not the only strife.

All life has pain. All life has fear.

Think of Leonard Peltier*."

He stopped as if to walk away

but then came back again to say,

”I want to make this very plain --

You have no right to add more pain."


*Leonard Peltier , a maember of AIM (American Indian Movement) was convicted of the killing of two federal agents at the 1975 shoot-out at the Pine Ridge Reservation. At his trial in 1977, the federal prosecutor told the jury "We don't know who actually shot the agents, but SOMEBODY has to pay for it."



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