“Then,” said the Rabbi, “what about the United States? It wiped out Native American tribes to create a new nation. Does the United States have the right to exist?”
“No,” I said. “White settlers did not have the right to grab land by killing off the people who already lived there. The US government did not have the right to break treaty after treaty, or to profit by herding Native Americans off valuable land and into desolation.” The thing is, it happened – and now people live with the consequences. And we need to work to somehow make amends.
The extermination of Indian nations during the westward expansion of the US, the Nazi persecution of Jews, the Zionist effort to push the Palestinians into an ever-shrinking prison – none of that had the right to happen. But most of it happened before I was born, so I didn’t have the opportunity to speak against it. I can only work to stop what is happening right now.
Not all of my thoughts made it into words, and I could tell many of the people in attendance had been offended, but there was one young woman who watched me with a particular intensity.
That was the first time I saw Rachel.