My very special friend JL from Oklahoma is an extraordinary individual and one of my favorite people. He served for 8 years in the US Navy's highly elite submarine service, and subsequently was a law-enforcement officer in Oklahoma. JL is an American Indian; his Cherokee name is "Tsa-La-Gi" ( pronounced shaw la gee), which means "Trail of Tears". Tsa La Gi sent me the following letter - a rare gem. See for yourself:
As you know, I'm not Jewish, but like you, I've had more than my share of tragedy and violence in this life. I count myself lucky to have made it to middle age, and I am very thankful to G-d for the chance to live this long. I wish you a long and happy life, and hope the road rises up to meet you as you walk through life!
Rabbi, I never thought I would live long enough to see my country betray Israel, but I saw it today when the footage of Israeli soldiers carrying out Israeli citizens from various buildings in the Gaza strip was broadcast on the television. Although the "evacuation" was a very smartly packaged piece of propaganda which was slanted to make it appear as a beneficial thing to world peace, I saw it for what it was: anti-semitism at work, a Jewish Removal Act of 2005, and it made me sick.
It seems that every country in the world has decided that Israel is the only impediment to "world peace", and Israel has to be removed from the planet so that they can live in some fantasy world of unity and happiness. It is so incredibly naive that it makes my head spin. It also makes me worry about the safety of the people of Israel, who have suffered so long and hard at the hands of historical hatred.
This is nothing new. In the 1830's, my American Indian ancestors were forcibly relocated across the "Trail of Tears" by the Indian Removal Act . They walked from Georgia to Oklahoma by order of the US Government. Many died from the weather, disease, and starvation. The same exact forces seem to be at work in Israel today, and it sickens me to see it happening with no one to speak out about it. I resolve not to be quiet.
Rabbi, as long as I am alive, I resolve to help the Jewish people, even though I am not Jewish myself. After today, I realize that the depths of historical hatred of the Jewish people must be deep for so many to revel in the anguish of innocent Jewish people like I have seen some do on my television.
Israel must survive in order to continue to provide a safe haven for the worlds Jews, and some gentiles must step up to help them in the future. I resolve to be one of the gentiles who will do all I can to help. I hope and pray others will do the same.
Regards, Tsa La Gi
PS: Take care of yourself, sir. You are an asset to humanity.
It's amazing how a bond of truth, common suffering, and sincerity can bind an Israeli Jewish heart to an American Indian heart. Tsa La Gi, I cherish your friendship and your concern for the fate of our people. May The Almighty fill your heart with joy always, and may you and your people reap a harvest of peace, justice, and prosperity, amen.
"The Trail of Tears", by Robert Lindneux, depicting the expulsion of the Cherokees from their beloved tribal native home in Georgia in the 1830's on the way to their forced resettlement in Oklahoma. A Georgia soldier who took part in the expulsion said, "I've seen loads blood and guts in my time, but the removal of the Cherokees was the hardest thing I ever did." Courtesy of Native American Foundation.