I know, I know. We are your chosen people.
But, once in a while, can’t you choose someone else?
—Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof)
* * *
It’s not easy being the chosen people. I mean, it’s like being the teacher’s pet. You don’t want to be. You didn’t ask to be. But you can’t shed the title. Once you get it, you’re stuck with it. You get the best desk, books, treats, and treatment.
But there’s a downside.
I don’t care how smart, friendly, or helpful you are, people will hate you. Hamas will tear you to shreds for no other reason than that they think you think you’re special, even if you say you’re not. Even if you share pencils and paper and a slice of your pie with them, they still hate you.
Turn the other cheek and they’ll strike that one too.
They have a 3,000-year-old grudge against you. They may hide it, but they never stop nursing it. They resent your very existence.
Long ago they uncovered an email between Moses and your God.
Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their figured stones, destroy all their cast images, and demolish all their high places. You shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.” (Numbers 33.51–53)
You came. You saw. You conquered.
Sorry to see you go. But our God gave your land to us. Shalom.
They asked for proof, for negotiations. But no, you just dispossessed them. It was your manifest destiny, you said.
(Not that it excuses you, but others have done the same in the name of their God. Just ask the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Those who are left.)
It’s hard for them to believe, but you have been harshly mistreated too. Brutalized, terrorized, caged. And yet you can be fair, kind, and generous. You have a heart for the underdog.
But they don’t see that. They see cockiness. They see your guns, bulldozers, and prisons. Your walls.
You strike back.
An eye for an eye.
If necessary, ten for one.
They have their reasons.
You have yours.
I don’t believe in chosen people.
I believe in imaginative people.