One Voice Can Make A Differenceby Eva Beim May 28, 2018
How many times has something upsetting come across the media or someone said something that upset you, and perchance for a moment you thought, “I’d really like to respond to that,” or perhaps, “I should write a letter to the editor,” or maybe you even considered talking to them about their opposing opinion. But you, as many of us have said to ourselves, say,“oh what’s the point?”
How often have you thought, “I don’t think I could make a difference, why bother attempting to change their mind?” Particularly if the statement(s) came from someone who seemed staunchly attached to their opinion.
Well that sentiment is exactly what crossed my mind when I saw a response on my Facebook page. It was my business FB page for my Jewish world music album, “Of Light.” I was gaining a following from India and then Pakistan, actually much to my surprise. Although there are a couple of pieces of music on the album that have an Indian vibe, they’re chanting in nature. Some use my last piece for their quiet meditation and yoga – also known as Shevasenah – but I was still somewhat stunned to see I had a growing number of followers from that part of the world. And for this music.
While not all the songs are Jewish, the majority are either based on Judaism or are in Hebrew. Needless to say, of all the lovely and positive responses I received, there was one that was quite nasty and anti-Semitic. And I’ll never forget it.
It struck me because I happened to read it first thing in the morning, which is not what I typically ascribe to. I don’t like looking at emails first thing in the morning, and this was a great example why; stressful messages are no way to begin the day. But this morning was different. And it hit me in my gut and hurt to see those hateful words about my people; especially considering I come from a place of love and desire to create bridges, not hatred or divisiveness. I’ve always been this way. Call me an idealist; yes, that’s what I am.
But as time has evolved and as happens to most of us, I’ve become a realist as well. I’m a big girl, I’ve certainly been confronted with anti-Semitism in the past, perhaps never so blatantly, because the anonymous Internet allows for bolder and more in your face remarks. (See my article on anti-Semitism in the April issue). Add to that, as I began this article, I’ve often thought of responding to haters and just didn’t.
For some odd reason, that morning was different. I chose to take a leap and write back to this angry young man in Pakistan. I merely said to him, “it’s sad for me to read the words you wrote. I’m just curious, have you met any Jews?” His retort was, “Of course not! I would never associate with you (blank blanks).” I subsequently wrote back again saying, that too was sad and “perhaps if you had an opportunity to know some of us, or learn a bit more about our people, you might think differently of us.”
A few days went by and I heard nothing. I wasn’t surprised, naturally, and I’d almost forgotten about the whole thing until a few days later when I saw his name on my Facebook page again. I hesitatingly opened it, and what I read is something I will never forget for as long as I live.
“I’m sorry,” he wrote. “Sorry to have upset you and accuse your people of such horrible things.” To paraphrase as his English was rather poor, he continued, “I have never met or talked with a Jew before. I’ve been doing some reading and thinking about what you said. It made me change my mind. You seem like very good people. I am very sorry to offend you.”
I teared up. I was stunned. And quietly happy I had decided to endeavor to reach out. It then occurred to me that my own lyrics in the song on my CD, “Don’t Walk Behind,” where I sing, “even one small voice can make a difference,” is something that, while I firmly believe in, I don’t often do enough.
When I take this example and set it against the backdrop of the near constant barrage of negative reporting against Israel in the majority of the Western media, I am reminded that though it’s a daunting task attempting to plant a seed or optimistically change a point of view, it’s often worth the attempt.
Having just returned from that small but very special country in early May, it was once again confirmed to me what I’ve always known, how misinformed so much of the world is about Israel. There are many Arabs thriving there, as many of you know, working there, many in high positions in the government, in the military; they are doctors and lawyers and business people, teachers and aids. They’re going to the same malls and restaurants as Jews, working with and alongside them. My own cousins have worked together with Arabs for years and have forged friendships. It’s an injustice what’s reported in much of the Western media. Many are happy there. It’s wonderful to observe. It’s refreshing. It’s not perfect, but what is?
So of course I believe in building bridges and have done so in the past, not always so easily; yet nothing was ever as brief and simple and blatant and life-changing as that transforming few-days exchange with a stranger in Pakistan who hated Jews and no longer does.
And I strongly believe now more than ever, it is incumbent upon all of those who seek to be good ambassadors for our people, for our values, for Israel and for Judaism everywhere, to take that little leap of faith. Certainly listen to your gut instincts, go about it wisely; however, I can only encourage that “one small voice can make a difference.”
Note: By the way, regarding the US Embassy in Jerusalem, it’s just another excuse for the merciless Hamas using their own innocent people as shields to get play on the news. They got exactly what they wanted and they’ve made Israel look like the bad guys once again. Why don’t any of the reporters ask if Israel just lets mobs come across the border, what do they think will happen? They don’t want to hear the answer that they want to kill Jews, that they still haven’t even recognized the Jewish state deserves to exist, and they want to annihilate all of its people.
Eva Beim’s music is available at CDBaby.com, Amazon, Itunes, Spotify. Eva is scheduling a summer concert on August 9th. Check her website evabeim.com for info. Reference this article on the website to receive a 20 percent discount on tickets.
Her concerts are an amalgam of Pop, Indie-world music, and crowd-pleasing favorites. She looks forward to hearing from you at evabeim.com.