Lag B'Omer - the 33rd day between Pesach and Shavuot- is a little-known Jewish holiday that celebrates (among other things) the cessation of a divinely-sent plague that resulted from people not showing one another adequate respect. It is celebrated with bonfires, and for the religious, a cessation in the semi-mourning practices observed throughout the Post-Passover Omer period. In Israel, on Lag B'Omer, a pall of smoke hovers over the city of Jerusalem from all the bonfires being set throughout the city.
Today, it feels as though mourning is the proper mood. The plague we suffer is one of racism, violence and destruction. "Price tag" - the practice of destroying and vandalizing the property not only of Palestinians, but of Christians, and of those who work for peace on the left, has continued to increase.
The acceptance at the highest levels of government of racism - against Arabs, such as Netanyahu's electoral comments to spur extreme right-wing voters to vote for him, "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls;" against African asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, and even against Ethiopian-Israelis, has been spotlighted recently because of protests in the news.
Yes, a pall hangs over Jerusalem. But we have the power to help end this plague. This year, let Lag BaOmer stand for the end of the plague of violence against others. Let this year see the cessation of the plague of destruction and xenophobia.
Support Americans for Peace Now and our colleagues in Israel's Peace Now movement as we speak out against this shameful behavior.
Stand with us as we take a firm stance against violence, whether Israeli against Palestinian, or Palestinian against Israeli. Violence by either side is intolerable, and must end.
Let us return Lag baOmer to a day of rejoicing, a day on which we can celebrate the end of these plagues.