I've never hated anyone before as far as I can remember. Oh, I've been really angry sometimes; but I don't remember ever actually feeling hatred, especially not toward someone I didn't even know. But what I experienced today came perilously close to that, and as I look back at the experience I find myself trying to see it from the outside.
Shopping with my family at a large home-improvement warehouse this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a young man, perhaps around 25. It was a hot day, and he was dressed as many other shoppers today, in a T-shirt and shorts. I probably wouldn't have even looked twice at him, except for what was on the T-shirt he was wearing. It said in bold letters, "Free Palestine," and had a large Palestinian flag emblazoned on the front. I looked once at the T-shirt, then again, and then I found myself getting furiously angry. Here is Israel, just trying to defend itself against the vicious attacks of its terrorist neighbors; Israel, who has in the last few years vacated both Lebanon and Gaza and was planning to leave almost all of Judea and Samaria in the next few months; Israel, who has watched the terrorists take over the areas it has unilaterally vacated, and has put up with repeated rocket attacks with virtually no response; Israel, who has lived with almost daily terrorist attacks from Palestinians despite its best efforts to maintain peace - and this guy has the NERVE to talk about freeing PALESTINE?!!
I literally wanted to walk up to the guy and slug him.
Of course I didn't. I sat there, watching him, for perhaps five or ten minutes, wondering if there was anything I could say to him to just make him THINK for a minute about what he was doing. I didn't succeed, and he ended up going somewhere else in the store; I did not see him again. Meanwhile here I am at 10 pm still wondering - could I have said something? Could I have done something? And what can I do or say to help keep others from ending up drawing the same conclusions as this guy did? It is amazing how deep hatred of Israel really runs - and how deep love for Israel can also run.
Israel, my prayers are with you!